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Patricia Crone & Michael Cook 


The Making of the 
Islamic World 









Published by the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press 
The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CBz I RP 
Bentley House, 200 Euston Road, London nwi 2 DB 
32 East 57th Street, New York, NY 10022, USA 
296 Bcaconsficld Parade, Middle Park, Melbourne 3206, Australia 

© Cambridge University Press 1977 

First published 
in 1977 

Printed in Malta by 
Interprint (Malta) Ltd. 

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data 

Crone, Patricia, 1940- 
Hagarism: the making of the Islamic world. 

Bibliography: p. 
Includes index. 
1. Islam — History. I. Cook, M. A., joint author. 
II. Tide. 

BP5J.C76 909'.09'767i 75-41714 

ISBN 0-J21-21133-6 


Preface vii 


1 Judeo-Hagarism 3 

2 Hagarism without Judaism 10 

3 The Prophet like Moses 16 

4 The Samaritan caiques 2 1 

5 Babylonia 29 
Appendix I : The Kenite ; Reason and custom 3 5 


6 The imperial civilisations 41 

7 The Near-Eastern provinces 47 


8 The preconditions for the formation of Islamic civilisation -73 

9 The fate of Antiquity: I. The Hagarisation of the Fertile 
Crescent 83 

10 The fate of Antiquity: II. The cultural expropriation of the 
Fertile Crescent 92 

1 1 The fate of Antiquity: III. The intransigence of Islamic 
civilisation 107 

1 2 The fate of Hagarism 1 20 

13 Sadducee Islam 130 

14 The austerity of Islamic history 1 39 

Appendix II : Lex Fufia Caninia and the Muslim law of 

bequests 149 

Notes to the text 152 

Bibliography 237 

Indices 259 



Islamic civilisation is the only one in the world which went through its 
formative period later than the first millennium B.C. Its emergence thus 
constitutes an unusual, and for a number of related reasons a peculiar, 
historical event. This book is an attempt to make sense of it. 

In making the attempt we have adopted an approach which differs 
appreciably from that of more conventional writing in the field. First, 
our account of the formation of Islam as a religion is radically new, or 
more precisely it is one which has been out of fashion since the seventh 
century : it is based on the intensive use of a small number of contemporary 
non- Muslim sources the testimony of which has hitherto been disregarded.* 
Secondly, we have expended a good deal of energy, both scholastic and 
intellectual, on taking seriously the obvious fact that the formation of 
Islamic civilisation took place in the world of late antiquity, and what is 
more in a rather distinctive part of it. Finally, we have set out with a certain 
recklessness to create a coherent architectonic of ideas in a field over much of 
which scholarship has yet to dig the foundations. 

It might not be superfluous for us to attempt a defence of this enter- 
prise against the raised eyebrows of the specialist, but it would certainly 
be pointless: it is in the last resort by specialists that our work will be 
judged, and the judgment of specialists is not open to corruption by pre- 
faces. What has been said should also suffice to warn the non-specialist 
what not to expect : this is a pioneering expedition through some very rough 
country, not a guided tour. There is however one particular group of 
readers who are in a special position. For although the characters who 
appear in our story are all of them dead, their descendants are very much 

In the first place, the account we have given of the origins of Islam is 
not one which any believing Muslim can accept: not because it in any way 
belittles the historical role of Muhammad, but because it presents him in 
a role quite different from that which he has taken on in the Islamic 

* It follows, of course, that new discoveries of early material could dramatically 
confirm, modify or refute the positions we have taken up. 



tradition. This is a book written by infidels for infidels, and it is based 
on what from any Muslim perspective must appear an inordinate regard 
for the testimony of infidel sources. Our account is not merely unaccept- 
able; it is also one which any Muslim whose faith is as a grain of mustard 
seed should find no difficulty in rejecting. 

In the second place, there is a good deal in this book that may be dis- 
liked by the Muslim who has lost his religious faith but retained his 
ancestral pride. What we wish to stress for such a reader is that the strong 
evaluative overtones of the language in which we have analysed the forma- 
tion of Islamic civilisation do not add up to any simplistic judgment for or 
against. We have presented the formation of the new civilisation as a 
unique cultural achievement, and one to which the maraudings of our own 
barbarian ancestors offer no parallel whatever; but equally we have pre- 
sented the achievement as one which carried with it extraordinary cultural 
costs, and it is above all the necessary linkage between the achievement 
and the costs that we have tried to elucidate.* 

In the course of our research we have been helped by a number of scholars 
and institutions. Dr Sebastian Brock, Mr G. R. Hawting and Dr M. J. 
Kister were kind enough to give us their comments on an earlier draft of 
Part One. Dr Brock, Dr P. J. Frandsen and Professor A. Scheiber assisted 
us over queries in areas of their specialist competence. Consultation of 
a rather inaccessible Syriac manuscript was made possible by a grant from 
the British Academy and gready facilitated by the kindness of Father 
William Macomber and Dr J. C. J. Sanders. Professor Bernard Lewis 
was good enough to make available to us his translation of a Jewish 
apocalyptic poem prior to publication. The completion of our research 
was gready helped in different ways by the Warburg Institute and the 
School of Oriental and African Studies. 

Over and above these debts of execution, we would also like to put 
on record what we owe to two influences without which this book could 
hardly have been conceived. The first was our exposure to the sceptical 
approach of Dr John Wansbrough to the historicity of the Islamic tradi- 
tion; without this influence the theory of Islamic origins set out in this 
book would never have occurred to us.t The second is the powerful and 

t Wc also benefited from an exchange of views with Dr Wansbrough in a seminar 
held in the spring of 1974, and have made use of what we learnt then at a number 
of points in our argument. These debts are acknowledged in their proper places ; 
such acknowledgements should be taken to indicate that the substance of the idea 
is not to be credited to us, not that the form in which it appears can be debited to 
Dr Wansbrough. Cf. his forthcoming Quranic Studits: Souras and Methods of 
Scriptural Interpretation. 



suggestive analysis of cultural meaning displayed in the work of John 
Dunn; without it we might still have developed our account of the 
beginnings of Islam, but we would have had only the haziest notion what 
to do with it. 

Finally, we would like to thank Professor J. B. Segal for teaching us 
Syriac, and Dr D. J. Kamhi for introducing us to the Talmud. 

What goes without saying should in this case be said : none of those 
who have helped us bear any responsibility for the views expressed in this 


Postscript : For a helpful survey covering most of the Syriac sources used 
in this book, see now S. P. Brock, 'Syriac Sources for Seventh-Century 
History', Byzantine and Modern Greek. Studies 1976. For an occurrence 
of the phrase ahl al-islam in an inscription dated a h. 71 which we over- 
looked at p. 8, see H. M. d-Hawary, The second oldest Islamic monu- 
ment known', Journal of tht Royal Asiatic Society 19)2, p. 290. For a 
dating of the earliest Koran fragments which, though for our purposes 
not sufficiendy precise, should have been cited at p. 1 8, see A. Grohmann, 
The problem of dating early Qur'ans', Der Islam 1958. 






Virtually all accounts of the early development of Islam take it as axiomatic 
that it is possible to elicit at least the outlines of the process from the 
Islamic sources. It is however well-known that these sources are not demon- 
strably early. There is no hard evidence for the existence of the Koran in 
any form before the last decade of the seventh century, and the tradition 
which places this rather opaque revelation in its historical context is not 
attested before the middle of the eighth. The historicity of the Islamic 
tradition is thus to some degree problematic: while there are no cogent 
internal grounds for rejecting it, there are equally no cogent external 
grounds for accepting it. In the circumstances it is not unreasonable to pro- 
ceed in the usual fashion by presenting a sensibly edited version of the 
tradition as historical fact. But equally, it makes some sense to regard 
the tradition as without determinate historical content, and to insist that 
what purport to be accounts of religious events in the seventh century 
are utilisable only for the study of religious ideas in the eighth.' The 
Islamic sources provide plenty of scope for the implementation of these 
different approaches, but offer little that can be used in any decisive way 
to arbitrate between them. The only way out of the dilemma is thus to 
step outside the Islamic tradition altogether and start again. 

If we choose to start again, we begin with the Doctrina lacobi, a Greek 
anti- Jewish tract spawned by the Heraclean persecution. 2 It is cast in the 
form of a dialogue between Jews set in Carthage in the year 6 34 ; it was in 
all probability written in Palestine within a few years of that date. 3 At one 
point in the argument reference is made to current events in Palestine in the 
form of a letter from a certain Abraham, a Palestinian Jew. 4 

A false prophet has appeared among the Saracens . . . They say that the prophet 
has appeared coming with the Saracens, and is proclaiming the advent of the 
anointed one who is to come [/<?» erkhomenou Eleimmenou kai Khristou]. I, 
Abraham, went off to Sykamina and referred the matter to an old man very well- 
versed in die Scriptures. I asked him: 'What is your view, master and teacher, of 
the prophet who has appeared among the Saracens?' He replied, groaning 
mightily: 'He is an impostor. Do the prophets come with sword and chariot? 


Whence Islam? 

Truly these happenings today are works of disorder . . . But you go off, Master 
Abraham, and find out about the prophet who has appeared.' So I, Abraham, 
made enquiries, and was told by those who had met him: "There is no truth to be 
found in the so-called prophet, only bloodshed; for he says he has the keys of 
paradise, which is incredible.' 

There are several points of interest in this account. One is the doctrine 
of the keys. It is not of course Islamic, but there are some slight indica- 
tions that it was a doctrine which the Islamic tradition had been at pains to 
repress: there is a group of traditions in which the keys of paradise are 
sublimated into harmless metaphor, 5 and a Byzantine oath of abjuration of 
Islam mentions the belief that the Prophet was to hold the keys of para- 
dise as part of the 'secret' doctrine of the Saracens.^ The point is not of 
great intrinsic interest, but it does suggest that we have in the Doctrina a 
stratum of belief older than the Islamic tradition itself. Of greater historical 
significance is the fact that the Prophet is represented as alive at the time of 
thf conquest of Palestine. This testimony is of course irreconcilable with the 
Islamic account of the Prophet's career, but it finds independent confir- 
mation in the historical traditions of the Jacobites, Nestorians and Samari- 
tans; 1 the doctrinal meaning of the discrepancy will be taken up later. 8 

But the really startling thing about the Doctrina is its report that the 
Prophet was preaching the advent of 'the anointed one who is to come'. 
That is to say the core of the Prophet's message, in the earliest testimony 
available to us outside the Islamic tradition, appears as Judaic messian- 
ism. The idea is hardly a familiar one, but again it is strikingly confirmed 
by independent evidence. 9 

There is in the first place a Jewish apocalypse of the mid-eighth century, 
the 'Secrets of Rabbi Simon ben Yohay', which preserves a messianic 
interpretation of the Arab conquest. 10 Since the messiah belongs at the 
end of an apocalypse and not in the middle, this interpretation is likely 
to derive from an earlier apocalypse written soon after the events to which 
it refers. 11 The relevant passage is as follows: 12 

When he saw the kingdom of Ishmael that was coming, he began to say: 'Was it 
not enough, what the wicked kingdom of Edom did to us, but we must have 
die- kingdom of Ishmael too?' At once Metapron the prince of the countenance 
answered and said : 'Do not fear, son of man, for the Holy One, blessed be He, 
only brings the kingdom of Ishmael in order to save you from this wickedness. 
He raises up over them a Prophet according to His will and will conquer the land 
for them and they will come and restore it in greatness, and there will be great 
terror between them and the sons of Esau.' Rabbi Simon answered and said : ' How 
do we know that they are our salvation?' He answered: 'Did not the Prophet 
Isaiah say thus: "And he saw a troop with a pair of horesemen, etc."? 13 Why 
did he put the troop of asses before the troop of camels, when he need only have 

4 ' 


said : "A troop of camels and a troop of asses" ? But when he, the rider on the 
camel, 14 goes forth the kingdom will arise through the rider on an ass. Again: "a 
troop of asses", since he rides on an ass, shows that they are the salvation of Israel, 
like the salvation of the rider on an ass.' — 

In addition, the 'Secrets' contains some references to the Kenite of Num. 
24:21 which are intelligible only as the residue of an alternative messianic 
interpretation of the conquest. 15 

Now it is in no way surprising that a Jewish apocalypse of the time 
should present the invasion which terminated Roman rule in Palestine as 
a positive event in the eschatological drama, and it is as such that it 
appears in another such composition, the apocalyptic poem 'On that 
day'. 16 But the author of the passage quoted from the 'Secrets' does more 
than this : he presents the role of the Ishma elites and their prophet as 
intrinsic to the messianic events themselves. This interpretation makes 
sense when set alongside the testimony of the Doctrina that the Prophet 
was in fact proclaiming the advent of the messiah, and at the same time 
provides independent confirmation of its authenticity. It may of course 
seem strange that Jews should accept the credentials of a presumably 
Arabian prophet as harbinger of the messiah; but there was good Judaic 
precedent for the performance of an Arab in this role. 11 

The other direct confirmation of the messianism of the Doctrina is to 
be found fossilised in the Islamic tradition, and incidentally reveals to us 
the identity of the messiah himself: 'Umar, 18 the second caliph of the 
Islamic schema retains even there the messianic designation al-faritq, the 
Redeemer." At the same time his entry into Jerusalem is anappropriate 
performance in this role, 20 while the 'Secrets' would seem to have him 
engage in the equally messianic task of restoring the Temple. 21 'Umar's 
embarrassing by-name was not of course left unglossed in the Islamic tradi- 
tion. When eventually the original Aramaic sense of the term had been 
successfully forgotten, it acquired a harmless Arabic etymology and was 
held to have been conferred by the Prophet himself. An earlier view at- 
tempted a historical rather than an etymological evasion: it was the 
people of the book who called 'Umar the faruq, and the appellation some- 
how slipped onto the tongues of the Muslims. 22 Detailed historical 
accounts of the way in which an innocently curious 'Umar was hailed 
in Syria as the faruq 23 are accordingly balanced by the attribution to him 
of acts which emphatically deny his role as a Judaic redeemer. 24 It is ironic 
that the inevitable attribution of everything to the Prophet is in this 
instance probably right. For if there is contemporary evidence that the 
Prophet was preaching the coming of the messiah, it can hardly be for- 
tuitous that the man who subsequendy came bears even in the Islamic 
tradition a transparendy messianic tide. 


Whence Islam? 

We have so far confined our attention to the messianic aspect of the con- 
quest of Palestine; but as might be expected, the sources provide indica- 
tions of a wider intimacy in the relations of Arabs and Jews at the time. 
The warmth of the Jewish reaction to the Arab invasion attested by the 
Doctrina 25 and exemplified by the 'Secrets' is far less in evidence in later 
Jewish attitudes. 26 More significandy, it is entirely absent from those of 
contemporary Christians, whether Orthodox 27 or heretical. 28 At the same 
time the sources attest the translation of these philo-Arab sentiments into 
concrete political involvement: the Doctrina refers to 'the Jews who mix 
with the Saracens', 29 while according to an early Armenian source the 
governor of Jerusalem in the aftermath of the conquest was a Jew. 30 

This evidence of Judeo-Arab intimacy iscomplemented by indications 
of a marked hostility towards Christianity on the part of the invaders. 
The converted Jew of the Doctrina protests that he will not deny Christ, 
the son of God, even if the Jews and Saracens catch him and cut him to 
pieces. 31 The Christian garrison of Gaza put the same determination into 
practice, and was martyred for it. 32 A contemporary sermon includes 
among the misdeeds of the Saracens the burning of churches, the destruc- 
tion of monasteries, the profanation of crosses, and horrific blasphemies 
against Christ and the church. 33 A violent Saracen hatred of the cross is 
also attested in an early account of the arrival of the invaders on Mt 
Sinai. 34 And the doctrinal corollary of all this finds neat expression when 
the Armenian source mentioned above has an early Ishmaelite ruler call 
upon the Byzantine emperor to renounce 'that Jesus whom you call Christ 
and who could not even save himself from the Jews'. 35 There is nothing 
here to bear out the Islamic picture of a movement which had already 
broken with the Jews before the conquest, and regarded Judaism and 
Christianity with the same combination of tolerance and reserve. 

What the materials examined so far do not provide is a concrete picture 
of the way in which this Judeo-Arab involvement might have come about. 
For this we have to turn to the earliest connected account of the career of 
the Prophet, that given in an Armenian chronicle written in the 66os and 
ascribed to Bishop Sebeos. 36 The story begins with the exodus of Jewish 
refugees from Edessa following its recovery by Herachus from the Per- 
sians towards 628: 

They set out into the desert and came to Arabia, among the children of Ishmael; 
they sought their help, and explained to them that they were kinsmen according 
to the Bible. Although they [the Ishmaelites] were ready to accept this close 
kinship, they [the Jews] nevertheless could not convince the mass of the people, 
because their cults were different. At this time there was an Ishmaelite called 
Mahmet,- 17 a merchant; he presented himself to them as though at God's com- 
mand, as a preacher, as the way of truth, and taught them to know the God 



of Abraham, for he was very well-informed, and very well-acquainted with the 
story of Moses. As the command came from on high, they all united under the 
authority of a single man, under a single law, and, abandoning vain cults, returned 
to the living God who had revealed Himself to their father Abraham. Mahmet 
forbade them to eat the flesh of any dead animal, to drink wine, 3 * to lie or to 
fornicate. He added: 'God has promised this land to Abraham and his posterity 
after him forever; he acted according to His promise while he loved Israel. Now 
you, you are the sons of Abraham and God fulfills in you the promise made 
to Abraham and his posterity. Only love the God of Abraham, go and take 
possession of your country which God gave to your father Abraham, and none 
will be able to resist you in the struggle, for God is with you.' Then they all 
gathered together from Havilah unto Shur and before Egypt [Gen. 25:18]; 
they came out of the desert of Pharan divided into twelve tribes according to the 
lineages of their patriarchs. They divided among their tribes the twelve thousand 
Israelites, a thousand per tribe, to guide them into the land of Israel. They 
set out, camp by camp, in the order of their patriarchs: Nebajoth, Kedar, 
Abdeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and 
Kedcmah [Gen. 2 5 :i 3—1 5]. These are the tribes of Ishmael ... All that re- 
mained of the peoples of the children of Israel came to join diem, and they con- 
stituted a mighty army. Then they sent an embassy to the emperor of the Greeks, 
saying: 'God has given this land as a heritage to our father Abraham and his 
posterity after him; we are the children of Abraham; you have held our country 
long enough; give it up peacefully, and we will not invade your territory; other- 
wise we will retake with interest what you have taken.' 

This version of the origins of Islam is an unfamiliar one. It is also 
manifestly ahistorical in its admixture of Biblical ethnography and de- 
monstrably wrong in the role it ascribes to the Jewish refugees from Edessa. 
This role, quite apart from its geographical implausibility, is in effect 
chronologically impossible : it means that Muhammad's polity could hardly 
have been founded much before 628, whereas as early as 643 we have 
documentary evidence that the Arabs were using an era beginning in 6 2 2 . 39 
Persian-occupied Palestine would be a far more plausible starting-point for 
the Jewish refugees than Edessa. 40 This need not however invalidate the 
picture which Sebeos gives of the structure of Jewish-Arab relations in the 
period leading up to the conquest, and the authenticity of this account is 
in fact strikingly confirmed from a rather unexpected quarter. In contrast 
to the standard Islamic account of the relations between Muhammad and 
the Jewish tribes of Medina, the Jews appear in the document known as the 
'Constitution of Medina' as forming one community (umma) with the 
believers despite the retention of their own religion, and are distributed 
nameless among a number of Arab tribes. 41 Since this document is a 
patently anomalous and plausibly archaic element of the Islamic tradition, 
its agreement in these respects with the earliest narrative account of the 
origins of Islam is highly significant. Sebeos can therefore be accepted as 


Whence Islam? 

providing the basic narrative framework within which the closeness of 
Judeo-Arab relations established earlier in this chapter belongs. 

What Sebeos has to say is also of considerable doctrinal interest in its 
own right. In the first place he provides a clear statement of the Palestinian 
orientation of the movement, a feature implicit in the messianic scenario 
and independendy attested in the Jacobite historical tradition; 42 it is of 
course in some tension with the insistence of the Islamic tradition that the 
religious metropolis of the invaders was, already at the time of the conquest, 
identified with Mecca rather than Jerusalem. 43 More specifically, the 
presentation of the movement as an irredentism directed to the recovery 
of a divinely conferred birthright to the Promised Land is suggestive of 
the messianic in-gathering of the exiles. Equally the exodus into the desert 
with which the story begins can plausibly be seen as the enactment of a 
well-established messianic fantasy. 44 At the same time this role of the 
desert, taken with the toponymic evocation of the original Israelite con- 
quest of the Land 45 and the statement that the Prophet was well-acquaint- 
ed with the story of Moses, is strongly suggestive of the rabbinic parallel- 
ism between the Mosaic and messianic redemptions: 46 the emphasis is, in 
other words, Mosaic rather than Davidic. Thus Sebeos, without direcdy 
attesting the messianic theme, helps to provide a doctrinal context in which 
it is thoroughly at home. 

But Sebeos also offers something entirely absent from the sources 
examined so far : an account of the way in which the Prophet provided a 
rationale for Arab involvement in the enactment of Judaic messianism. This 
rationale consists in a dual invocation of the Abrahamic descent of the 
Arabs as Ishmaelites : on the one hand to endow them with a birthright 
to the Holy Land, 47 and on the other to provide them with a monotheist 
genealogy. Neither invocation was without precedent. 48 But if the mes- 
sage was hardly a very original one, it already contained, alongside the 
rationale for Ishmaelite participation in an Israelite exodus, the germ of an 
Arab religious identity distinct from that of their Jewish mentors and 

There is no good reason to suppose that the bearers of this primitive iden- 
tity called themselves 'Muslims'. The earliest datable occurrence of this 
term is in the Dome of the Rock of 69 if; 49 it is not otherwise attested 
outside the Islamic literary tradition until far into the eighth century. 50 
Our sources do however reveal an earlier designation of the community, 
and one which fits well with the context of ideas presented by Sebeos. This 
designation appears in Greek as 'Magaritai' in a papyrus of 642, and in 
Syriac as 'Mahgre' or 'Mahgraye' from as early as the 640s; 51 the cor- 
responding Arabic term is mubdjirun. 12 There are two notions involved 



here. The first, rather lost in the Islamic tradition, 53 is genealogical : the 
'Mahgraye', as an early Syriac source informs us, are the descendants of 
Abraham by Hagar. S4 But alongside this ascribed status there is also an 
attained one which is fully preserved in the Islamic tradition : the muhajirun 
are those who take part in a hijra, an exodus. 55 

In the Islamic tradition the exodus in question is from Mecca to 
Medina, and its date is identified with the inception of the Arab era in 6 2 2 . 
But no early source attests the historicity of this exodus, 56 and the sources 
examined in this chapter provide a plausible alternative in the emigration 
of the Ishmaelites from Arabia to the Promised Land. Two points are 
worth adducing here in favour of this alternative. In the first place, the 
muhajirun of the Islamic tradition are by the time of the invasion of Pales- 
tine only the leading element of the conquering religious community; and 
yet the Greek and Syriac sources use the terms 'Magaritai' and 'Mahgraye* 
with every appearance of referring to the community as a whole. 57 
Secondly, the Islamic tradition preserves examples of the use of hijra 
and related terms in contexts where the emigration is not within Arabia 
but from Arabia to the conquered territories. 58 There is even a tradition 
which by implication narrows the destination to Palestine : there will be 
hijra after hijra, but the best of men are to follow the hijra of Abraham. 59 
The 'Mahgraye' may thus be seen as Hagarene participants in a hijra to the 
Promised Land, and in this pun lies the earliest identity of the faith which 
was in the fullness of time to become Islam. 




The mutual understanding.that 'you can be in my dream if I can be in 
yours' may have provided a viable basis for an alliance of Jews and Arabs 
in the wilderness. But when the Jewish messianic fantasy was enacted in the 
form of an Arab conquest of the Holy Land, political success was in itself 
likely to prove doctrinally embarrassing. Sooner rather than later, the mix- 
ture of Israelite redemption and Ishmaelite genealogy was going to curdle. 
For inherent in the messianic programme was the question once put to 
Jesus of Nazareth: 'Lord, wilt thou now restore the kingdom to Israel?' 
Jesus, of course, had been excellently placed to evade the question, and his 
followers had proceeded to shape a religion around this evasion. But the 
very success of the Arabs precluded a gradual dissociation from Jewish 
messianism, and required instead a sharp and immediate break. 

The context in which this break actually occurred may well have been 
the central symbolic act of the messianic programme, the restoration of the 
Temple. On the one hand we have the readiness of the early sources to 
speak of Arab building activity on the site as restoring the Temple, 1 which 
at least suggests that this is what the Arabs originally took themselves to 
be doing ; and in particular, we have the statement of the 'Secrets' that the 
second king who arises from Ishmael will be a lover of Israel who 'restores 
their breaches and the breaches of the temple'. 2 But on the other hand we 
have the account given by Sebeos of an overt quarrel between Jews and 
Arabs over the possession of the site of the Holy of Holies, in which the 
Arabs frustrate a Jewish design to restore the Temple and build their own 
oratory there instead. 3 It is not unlikely that the 'Secrets' and Sebeos 
are referring to successive phases of Judeo-Arab relations. 4 But Sebeos 
places his account of the break in the immediate aftermath of the first wave 
of conquests; 5 the days of the messiah seem at all events to have been 
pretty short-lived. 6 

The first thing the Hagarenes needed in this predicament was a 
rationale for the break with Jewish messianism. The Islamic tradition 
preserves some evidence of Hagarene inventiveness in this context : we have 
already seen the manner in which the designation of 'Umar as 'Redeemer' 
was rendered innocuous, and we shall come later to the curious fate of the 


Hagarism without Judaism 

corresponding notion of 'redemption'. 7 But significant as such shifts may 
have been, they were also somewhat superfluous. The problem had long 
ago been faced and solved in a very different style by the Christians. 

As the Hagarenes broke with their erstwhile Jewish proteges and ac- 
quired large numbers of Christian subjects, their initial hostility to 
Christianity was clearly liable to erosion. Thus Isho'yahb III, Nestorian 
Catholicus c. 647—58, comments on the highly benevolent attitude of the 
Arabs towards the church, 8 while another Nestorian writing in the Jaziira 
in the last decade of the century recollects that the invaders had had an 
order from their leader in favour of the Christians. 9 At the same time a 
Coptic life of Patriarch Isaac of Rakoti attests the idyllic relations that ob- 
tained between him and the governor 'Abd al-'Aziz b. Marwan in the 
680s, and the latter 's love of the Christians. 10 Against this background, 
a certain doctrinal softening towards the person of Jesus himself was to be 
expected. Already in an account of a disputation between a Christian 
patriarch and a Hagarene emir which probably took place in 644," the 
emir appears neither to reject nor to affirm the messianic status of Jesus. 12 
But the clearest evidence of this softening is to be found in the account 
preserved in a fragment of an early Maronite chronicle of Mu'awiya's ac- 
tions on becoming 'king' in Jerusalem in 659: he proceeds to pray at 
Golgotha, Gethsemane and the grave of the Virgin, a behavioural en- 
dorsement of the redemptive death of Christ. 13 This of course is more than 
the Islamic tradition was to concede : Islam has no notion of Jesus as a 
saviour, and despite its acceptance of his messianic status, it contrives to 
perpetuate the early Hagarene hatred of the cross through a clever in- 
vocation of Docetism. 14 Mu awiya himself, according to the same Maro- 
nite source, attempted to issue coins without the cross. 19 But it is the 
recognition of Jesus as the messiah, already implicit in Mu'awiya's devo- 
tions and explicit in the Koran, 16 that concerns us here. 

The most interesting attestation of this recognition occurs in a letter of 
Jacob of Edessa (d.c. 708) on the genealogy of the Virgin: 17 

That the messiah is of Davidic descent, everyone professes, the Jews, the 
Mahgraye and the Christians . . . That, the messiah is, in the flesh, of Davidic 
descent ... is thus professed by all of them, Jews, Mahgraye and Christians, and 
regarded by them as something fundamental . . . The Mahgraye too ... all confess 
firmly that he [Jesus] is the true messiah who was to come and who was fore- 
told by the prophets; on this subject they have no dispute with us, but rather with 
the Jews. They reproachfully maintain against them . . . that the messiah was 
to be bora of David, and further that this messiah who has come was born of 
Mary. This is firmly professed by the Mahgraye, and not one of them will dispute 
it, for they say always and to everyone that Jesus son of Mary is in truth the 

1 1 

Whence Islam? 

The significance of this passage relates less to the content than to the man- 
ner of the belief. It enables us to see in the rather inert and perfunctory 
Koranic recognition of Jesus as messiah the residue of a basic Hagarene 
tenet vigorously maintained in controversy with the Jews. The point of 
such a tenet is obvious enough. In the figure of Jesus Christianity offered 
a messiah fully disengaged from the political fortunes of the Jews. All the 
Hagarenes had to do to rid themselves of their own messianic incubus was 
to borrow the messiah of the Christians. 

Where the exchange of a Judaic for a Christian messianism was less help- 
ful to the Hagarenes was in the development of a positive religious identity 
of their own. The harder they leant on Christianity to dissociate them- 
selves from the Jews, the greater the danger that they would simply end 
up by becoming Christians like the majority of their subjects. In con- 
ceptual terms the key to their suvival lay in the primitive religious identity 
already delineated in Judeo-Hagarism, and in particular in the Prophet's 
invocation of the God of Abraham in order to present an alien mono- 
theism to the Arabs as their ancestral faith. 18 From this starting-point the 
Hagarenes went on to elaborate a full-scale religion of Abraham. 

The idea of a religion of Abraham is of course prominent in the Koran. 
It is clearly presented as an autonomous religion (16:124, 22 .7 7); and its 
founder is not only categorised as a prophet (19:42, cf. Gen. 20:7), he 
is also for the first time endowed with a scripture, the $uhuf Ibrahim 
(53 : 3 5 f , 8 7 : 1 8f ). The doctrinal resources of this faith extend to a scriptu- 
rally ambiguous but essentially revivalist role for Muhammad himself 
(2:123), " a ^ so seems to ha ve provided the primary context for the 
development of the notion of islam. 19 But the only point at which the 
Koranic religion of Abraham retains any /wtf/W plausibility is the account 
of his foundation, in conjunction with Ishmael 20 , of what the Islamic 
tradition was to identify as the Meccan sanctuary (2:1 i8ff ). 21 

What is missing in the Koranic data is the sense of an integral and 
concrete project for a Hagarene faith. It is a Christian source which makes 
good this loss by introducing the notion of Abraham's 'commandments' — 
also alluded to in the 'Secrets' 22 — and by identifying them as circumcision 
and sacrifice. This late Umayyad text, a Syriac disputation between a monk 
of Bet Hale and a follower of the emir Maslama, 23 includes the following 
exchange: 24 

THE ARAB : Why don't you believe in Abraham and his commandments, when he 
is the father of prophets and kings, and scripture testifies to his righteous- 

the monk: What sort of belief in Abraham do you expect from us, and what are 
these commandments which you want us to observe? 


Hagarism without Judaism 

THE ARAB: Circumcision and sacrifice, because he received them from God. 25 

Two other sources provide partial parallels to this Hagarene espousal of 
circumcision and sacrifice under an Abrahamic sanction. The first is an 
exchange of letters said to have taken place between 'Umar II and the 
emperor Leo III as it appears in the Armenian chronicle of Levond. 26 
Here one of 'Umar's reproaches against the Christians is that they have 
arbitrarily changed all the laws, turning circumcision into baptism and 
sacrifice into eucharist. 21 The other source is a prophecy of the exodus of 
the Hagarenes from the desert attributed to St Ephraim, in which they are 
described as a people 'which holds to the covenant of Abraham'. 2 ' 

Now the identification of the cultic pillars of the religion of Abraham as 
circumcision and sacrifice has two interesting implications. The first 
concerns the relationship of this faith to Islam. It is of course true that 
the elements of the Abrahamic cult survive into the Islamic tradition. 29 
But they have lost their original centrality : 30 there is a tendency for sacri- 
fice to be absorbed into ritual slaughter, 31 and there are even doubts as to 
the necessity of circumcision. 32 Equally, except in the special case of sacri- 
fice in the religious metropolis, the patriarchal rationale for these practices 
is far less in evidence. We are thus faced with a general dissipation of the 
structure of the religion of Abraham in Islam, a point the significance of 
which will be taken up later. 33 

Secondly, both circumcision and sacrifice are attested in pre-Islamic 
Arabia, 34 and there is thus a certain presumption that it is there that the 
origin of the Hagarene practices is to be sought. In the case of sacrifice, 
moreover, this presumption is reinforced by a further consideration. The 
Christian sources indicate sacrifice to have been a standard cultic practice 
in Syria. Thus the Jacobite patriarch Athanasius of Balad, in a letter of 684 
regarding the religious dangers of Christian intercourse with the con- 
querors, is particularly concerned to stop Christians eating the sacrifices 
of the 'pagans'; 35 and Jacob of Edessa, in the course of some curious 
observations on the religious malpractices of the Armenians, mentions that 
the Arabs practice circumcision and make three genuflexions to the south 
when sacrificing. 36 Now sacrifice outside the religious metropolis, what- 
ever its Abrahamic scriptural sanction, 37 could not in practice be a bor- 
rowing from one of the older monotheisms. There are thus grounds for 
seeing in Hagarene circumcision and sacrifice the perpetuation of pagan 
practice under a new Abrahamic aegis. 38 

What this suggests is that the role of Abraham in the early development 
of Hagarism was not simply to give an ancestral status to monotheist 
theory; it was also to confer a monotheist status on ancestral practice. 
This is surely the context which gave Islam the curious term banifi so 

r 3 

Whence Islam? 

closely associated with Abraham and his faith : by borrowing a word which 
meant 'pagan' in the vocabulary of the Fertile Crescent, and using it to 
designate an adherent of an unsophisticated Abrahamic monotheism, the 
Hagarenes contrived to make a religious virtue of the stigma of their pagan 
past. 39 At the same time we can discern in this trend the beginnings of the 
far-reaching reorientation whereby the origins of Islam came to be seen in 
an elaborate and organic relationship to a real or imagined pagan heritage. 

The religion of Abraham provided some sort of answer to the question how 
the Hagarenes could enter the monotheist world without losing their 
identity in either of its major traditions. But in itself it was too simple and 
threadbare a notion to generate the basic religious structures which such a 
will to independence required. The faith which had most to offer the 
Hagarenes at this level was Samaritanism. The Samaritans had faced the 
problem of dissociation from Judaism before the Christians, and without 
ever being absorbed by them. They had also solved the problem in a style 
very different from that of the Christians, and a good deal more relevant 
to the immediate needs of the Hagarenes : where the Christians sublimated 
the Judaic categories into metaphor, the Samaritans replaced them with 
concrete alternatives. 40 Given this basic affinity, a Hagarene reception of 
Samaritan ideas was facilitated conceptually by the prominence of Moses 
in both Judeo-Hagarism 41 and Samaritanism, and politically by the very 
innocuousness of the Samaritan community. 42 

The earliest Hagarene borrowing from the Samaritans of which we have 
evidence is their scriptural position. At one point in the disputation 
between the patriarch and the emir referred to above, 43 the emir demands 
to be told how it is that, if the Gospel is one, the Christian sects differ 
imong themselves in matters of belief. The patriarch replies: 44 

Just as the Pentateuch is one and the same, and is accepted by us Christians 
and by you Mahgraye, and by the Jews and the Samaritans, and each community 
is divided in faith; so also with the faith of the Gospel, each heresy understands 
and interprets it differendy. 

Hagarism is thus classed as a Pentateuchal religion. 45 Later the discussion 
shifts to the divinity of Christ and his status as son of God, and the emir 
demands proof from the Pentateuch. The patriarch replies with a barrage 
of unspecified scriptural citations, the weight of which was clearly pro- 
phetic. It is the emir's reaction at this point that is crucial: 46 . 

The illustrious emir did not accept these from the prophets, but demanded [that] 
Moses [be cited] to prove to him that the messiah was God. 

To accept the Pentateuch and reject the prophets is the Samaritan scriptural 


Haytrism without Judaism 


Adherence to this scriptural position can also be detected in some pas- 
sages of Levond's version of the correspondence between 'Umar and 
Leo. 41 One of 'Umar's questions is this: 48 

Why does one not find in the laws of Moses anything about heaven, hell, the 
Last Judgment or the resurrection? It is the Evangelists . . . who have spoken of 
these things according to their own understanding. 49 

To this Leo replies with an exposition of the gradual unfolding of the 
divine revelation, insisting that God did not speak to men once only 
through a single prophet, and denying his interrogator's position that 
'everything vouchsafed by God to the human race was revealed through 
Moses'. 50 Alongside this Mosaic fundamentalism may be set the disparage- 
ment of the prophets that appears in another of 'Umar's questions: 51 

Why do you not accept all that Jesus says about himself, but search the writings of 
the prophets and the psalms with a view to finding testimonies to the incarnation 
of Jesus? You ... are dissatisfied with what Jesus testified about himself, but 
believe in what the prophets said. But Jesus was truly worthy of belief, was close 
to God, and knew himself more closely than writings distorted and perverted by 
peoples unknown to you. 

In each case, the tendency on the Hagarene side is clearly towards the 
Samaritan scriptural position. 52 The way in which the great Judaic pro- 
phets scarcely figure in the Koran is perhaps the Islamic residue of this 
doctrine. 53 

The Samaritan scriptural position had something to offer the Hagarenes 
on two levels. Specifically, it deleted the scriptural basis of the Davidic 
component of Judaic messianism — neither the legitimacy of the Davidic 
monarchy nor the sanctity of Jerusalem are attested in the Pentateuch; 54 
and at the same time, it did something to reinforce the patriarchal em- 
phasis of the religion of Abraham. More generally, the espousal of the 
Pentateuch without the prophets defined an attitude to the question of 
religious authority, at least in its scriptural form, which was polemically 
viable in the monotheist world. 55 

The Hagarenes had thus found solutions to the most pressing problems 
they faced in the aftermath of the break with Judaism. Their religion of 
Abraham established who they were, their Christian messianism helped to 
emphasise who they were not, and their scriptural position, in addition to 
helping out with messianism, endowed them with a sort of elementary 
doctrinal literacy, a line to shoot. The trouble was that these solutions, 
were utterly inconsistent with one another. 



The combination of the religion of Abraham with an instrumental Christian 
messianism was in itself a curious one, and the adjunction of the Samaritan 
scriptural position did nothing to render it more plausible. On the one 
hand the rejection of the prophets, by the very neatness with which it 
excised the scriptural basis of Davidic messianism, made nonsense of the 
recognition of the Christian messiah; and on the other, the recognition of 
the Pentateuch alone meant a Mosaic dominance which went badly with 
the notion of a religion of Abraham. But the root of the trouble was that 
the Hagarenes had not yet faced up to the basic dilemma of their religious 
predicament. They had begun with an uneasy combination of Israelite 
redemption and Ishmaelite genealogy; the specific content of each term 
might change, but the fundamental problem remained that of making an 
alien religious truth their own. There were really only two solutions. On 
the one hand they could proceed after the manner of the Ethiopian Christ- 
ians, that is to say by themselves adopting Israelite descent. But in view of 
the play they had already made of tl.eir Ishmaelite ancestry, it is hardly 
surprising that they should have clung to it throughout their entire doctrinal 
evolution. On the other hand, if they would not go to the truth, the truth 
might perhaps be persuaded to come to them. On the foundation of their 
Ishmaelite genealogy, they had to erect a properly Ishmaelite propheto- 
logy. It was a daring move for so religiously parvenu a nation, but it was 
the only way out. 

The initial doctrinal adaptions analysed in the previous chapter had 
left Muhammad himself distincdy underemployed. The repression of 
messianism had reduced his mission to that of a monotheist preacher of 
rather ill-defined status. It was possible to give this status more precise 
definition by invoking the notion of a revivalist messenger sent to restore 
the religion of Abraham. 1 But from the materials preserved in the Koran, 
it would appear that the predominant trend was to align the Prophet with 
a series of non-scriptural warners sent to gentile peoples. 2 That this 
archaic model reflects a significant doctrinal stratum is suggested on the one 
hand by the frequency and relative lucidity of its presentation, 3 and on the 
other by the pull which it exercises even on the figure of Moses. 4 The key 


The Prophet like Moses 

to its attractiveness must have lain in its combination of simplicity and 
evasion: the reduction of the message to a mere warning delivered in a 
parochial ethnic context obviated the need to define its relationship to the 
wider domain of monotheist revelation. 

It was just this relationship that stood in need of definition if an 
Ishmaelite prophetology was to be created. The Arabian warner had to 
advance beyond his comfortably parochial role into the dizzy heights of 
scriptural revelation : he had now to be aligned, not with Hud and Salih, 
but with the Moses of Mt Sinai. Two features of the Mosaic complex 
facilitated this alignment. The first was the ease with which it is pos- 
sible to shift within the Mosaic paradigm from redemption to revelation, 
the Red Sea to Sinai. It was not difficult to see Muhammad in the Mosaic 
role of the leader of an exodus, and there was therefore no reason why he 
should not complete the performance by receiving revelation on an appro- 
priate sacred mountain. 9 This shift of emphasis is elegantly caught in the 
contrasting formulations of the relationship of Muhammad to Moses given 
by two Armenian chroniclers: for the early Sebeos, Muhammad is well- 
acquainted with the story of Moses, while for the late Samuel of Ani he is 
imperfectly acquainted with the law of Moses. 6 But the most striking at- 
testation of the shift is the curious semantic evolution of the term furqan, 
from its original Aramaic sense of 'redemption' to its secondary Arabic 
sense of 'revelation': 1 in the image of Is. 2 1 :7, the salvation of the rider 
on the ass had been transmuted into the scripture of the rider on the camel. * 

The other helpful feature of the Mosaic complex was the Deuterono- 
mic promise of a 'prophet like Moses'. 9 The Koran itself is too modest to 
cast the Prophet in this role: indeed it presents his revelation as a mere 
Arabic attestation of that of Moses (46:11 etc.). But the Sira provides 
clear instances of the identification of Muhammad as the Deuteronomic 
prophet. 10 The Mosaic complex thus provided both the model and the 
sanction for the recasting of Muhammad as the bearer of a new revelation. 

Where the Hagarenes had to fend for themselves was in composing an 
actual sacred book for their prophet, less alien than that of Moses and more 
real than that of Abraham. 1 1 No early source sheds any direct light on the 
questions how and when this was accomplished. With regard to the manner 
of composition, there is some reason to suppose that the Koran was put 
together out of a plurality of earlier Hagarene religious works. In the first 
place, this early plurality is attested in a number of ways. On the Islamic 
side, the Koran itself gives obscure indications that the integrity of the 
scripture was problematic, 12 and with this we may compare the allegation 
against 'Uthman that the Koran had been many books of which he had 
left only one. 13 On the Christian side, the monk of Bet Hale distinguishes 
pointedly between the Koran and the Suraf al-baqara as sources of law, 14 


Whence Islam? 

while Levond has the emperor Leo describe how Hajjaj destroyed the old 
Hagarene 'writings'. 15 Secondly, there is the internal evidence of the 
literary character of the Koran. The book is strikingly lacking in overall 
structure, frequently obscure and inconsequential in both language and 
content, perfunctory in its linking of disparate materials, and given to the 
repetition of whole passages in variant versions. On this basis it can 
plausibly be argued that the book is the product of the belated and imper- 
fect editing of materials from a plurality of traditions. 16 

At the same time the imperfection of the editing suggests that the 
emergence of the Koran must have been a sudden, not to say hurried, event. 
But again, there is no direct early testimony as to the date of this event. 17 
The Dome of the Rock does attest the existence, at the end of the seventh 
century, of materials immediately recognisable as Koranic in a text that 
not infrequendy coincides with our own; 18 but it does not of course give 
any indication of the literary form in which these materials normally 
appeared at the time. The earliest reference from outside the Islamic 
literary tradition to a book called the Koran occurs in the late Umayyad 
dialogue between the Arab and the monk of Bet Hale; 19 but as we have 
seen, it may have differed considerably in content from the Koran we now 
know. In any case, with the single exception of a passage in the dialogue 
between the pftriarch and the emir which might be construed as an im- 
plicit reference to the Koranic law of inheritance, 20 there is no indication 
of the existence of the Koran before the end of the seventh century. Now 
both Christian and Muslim sources attribute some kind of role to Hajjaj 
in the history of Muslim scripture. In the account attributed to Leo by 
Levond, Hajjaj is said to have collected and destroyed the old Hagarene. 
writings and replaced them with others composed according to his own 
tastes; 21 the Muslim traditions are more restrained, though far from uni- 
form. 22 It is thus not unlikely that we have here the historical context in 
which the Koran was first put together as Muhammad's scripture. 

Once Muhammad was established in the role of a Mosaic scriptural 
prophet, the identity of the new faith was finally secure. In the first place, 
a shift from a prophetology more reactionary than Judaism to one more 
progressive than Christianity brought the older monotheist religions into 
a more comfortable perspective. The Mosaic presence receded somewhat, 23 
and the Torah according to one tradition was deferentially dumped in Lake 
Tiberias. 24 Equally the Hagarenes were now in a position to recognise 
the prophets of the Judaic carton, 25 and to extend the role of Jesus by 
aligning him between Moses and Muhammad in a succession of great 
lawgivers on the Mosaic model. 26 Secondly, the problem of the national- 
isation of prophecy had received as effective a solution as it was ever to 
get. 27 The appearance of a full-blooded Ishmaelite in the role of the final 


The Prophet like Moses 

lawgiver of religious history resolved the worst of the tension between 
alien truth and native identity. At the same time the boldness of this 
solution rendered the religion of Abraham, with its timid espousal of the 
last prophet that Ishmael could legitimately share with Israel, conceptually 
otiose. 28 As its structure went into dissolution, its otitic prescriptions gave 
way to the less atavistic pillars of the religion of Muhammad. 29 All in all, 
the new faith was now secure enough in its distance from its Judaic origins 
to confront Judaism on its home ground: when 'Abd al-Malik built the 
dome in which he proclaimed the prophetic mission of Muhammad, he 
placed it over the temple rock itself. 30 

At the same time, the Samaritan and Abrahamic stepping-stones to the 
religion of Muhammad endowed it with a category central to its status as 
an independent faith, that of islam. lx The Samaritan contribution was the 
notion of islam in the sense of submission to God. The verb aslama has 
cognates in Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac. But whereas neither Jewish nor 
Christian literature provides satisfactory precedent for the Islamic usage, 32 
we find exact parallels in the most important Samaritan text of thepre- 
Islamic period. 33 It could of course be argued that this represents the con- 
tamination of the Samaritan textual tradition by Islamic influence; but in 
the case of islam this is unlikely, not least because the Samaritan usage, 
unlike the Islamic, is at home in a range of similar uses of the same and other 
roots. 34 - 

But if Samaritanism provided the Hagarenes with the notion of islam, 
it provides only a clue to the significance it was to acquire for them. The 
context of the idea in Samaritanism is patriarchal, and its leading example 
Abrahamic. The religion of Abraham was thus the most appropriate locus 
for the assimilation and development of the borrowing, and the Koranic 
material bears out this inference. In general, this material gives a strong 
sense of the paradigmatic status of Abraham's submission and of the 
central role of submission in his religion. 35 Specifically, the Koranic treat- 
ment of the binding of Isaac, the key example of Abrahamic submission, is 
accompanied by an interpretation which is characteristically Samaritan. 36 

This role of the religion of Abraham does something to explain the 
interest taken by the Hagarenes in a rather peripheral Samaritan notion; 
but it hardly accounts for the prominence achieved by this notion in 
Islam There are two directions in which one might look for the challenge 
which evoked this response. In the first place, we clearly have to do with 
a general religious category defining the proper relationship between man 
and God which occupies a position analogous to that of the covenant in 
Judaism. The possibility thus arises of seeing in islam a development of 
the covenant of Abraham in the face of the challenge of the Mosaic 
covenant. This would at least make a certain sense of a very refractory 


Whence Islam? 

feature of the semantics of the term, the fact that the Koranic usage of 
islam and related forms frequently requires an intransitive sense, probably 
as primary. The most plausible sense of the root to invoke here is that of 
'peace', and the sense of 'to make peace' is well-attested for the cognate of 
aslama in targumic Aramaic; 37 from this it can be argued that the primary 
sense of islam was entry into a covenant of peace. 38 If so, the reinterprcta- 
tion of this conception in terms of the ultimately dominant sense of 'sub- 
mission' can readily be seen as intended to differentiate the Hagarene 
covenant from that of Judaism. 

But if islam is the conceptual rival of one Mosaic notion, it is also the 
historical successor of another. In early Hagarism the idea of 'exodus' 
had constituted the central duty of the faith, and at the same time provided 
its adherents with a name. 39 It was as if the central category of the religion 
of Moses had been a reference to the Red Sea. But when redemption 
became scripture, the Hagarenes needed a category more Sinaitic in scope. 
Hence islam replaced hijra as the fundamental religious duty, 40 and the 
'Mahgraye' accordingly became Muslims. 



Judaism is among other things the religious sanction of a polity: the 
consecration of its capital, Jerusalem, and the legitimation of its state, the 
Davidic monarchy. The polity itself had long disappeared, but its memory 
remained, most vividly in the restorationist aspirations of messianism. Any 
religious movement dissociating itself from Judaism had perforce to exor- 
cise the ghost of this polity. 1 The followers of Jesus had done so by 
rendering the meaning of the messiah and his city innocuously spiritual: a 
heavenly Jerusalem was good enough for a sect whose kingdom was not of 
this world. 2 But the Hagarenes, being in immediate possession of political 
power, required a solution of a more drastic and concrete character. It is 
here that the abiding structural legacy of Samaritanism to Islam is to be 
found, despite the complexities induced by a variety of secondary inter- 
actions, in the form of a remarkable pair of Hagarene caiques. 3 

The first of these is the Meccan sanctuary. The core of Samaritanism 
was the rejection of the sanctity of Jerusalem and its replacement by the 
older Israelite sanctuary of Shechem. This meant that when the Hagarenes 
in turn disengaged from Jerusalem, 4 Shechem could provide a simple 
and appropriate model for the creation of a sanctuary of their own. The 
parallelism is striking. Each presents the same binary structure of a sacred 
city closely associated with 3 nearby holy mountain, and in each case the 
fundamental rite is a pilgrimage from the city to the mountain. In each case 
the sanctuary is an Abrahamic foundation, the pillar on which Abraham 
sacrificed in Shechem finding its equivalent in the rukn of the Meccan 
sanctuary. 5 Finally, the urban sanctuary is in each case closely associated 
with the grave of the appropriate patriarch: Joseph (as opposed to Judah) 
in the Samaritan case, Ishmael (as opposed to Isaac) in the Meccan. 

These parallels are the more remarkable in that the Meccan sanctuary is 
clearly only the terminus of a complex development. In what follows we 
shall identify the major processes at work in this development, and attempt 
a speculative account of the way in which they may have interacted. 

In the first place, the location of the Hagarene Shechem in Mecca is 
demonstrably secondary. The Islamic tradition, of course, leaves us in no 
doubt that Mecca was the aboriginal Abrahamic sanctuary of the Ishma- 

Whence Islam? 

elites; but there is no lack of evidence to suggest that it was in fact quite 
some time before the Hagarenes knew whether they were coming or 
going. 6 Negatively, no early source outside the Islamic literary tradition 
refers to Mecca by name. On the face of it the earliest references are those 
found in one Syriac version of the apocalypse of pseudo-Methodius; but 
although the apocalypse itself dates from the late seventh century, the 
references to Mecca which distinguish this version are ljkely to be second- 
ary. 1 The next Christian reference occurs in the 'Continuatio Byzantia 
Arabica',* a source dating from early in the reign of Hisham.'The Koran, 
on the other hand, does make one reference to Mecca (48 '.24), and in the 
context of military operations related to the sanctuary, but it never actually 
locates the sanctuary there; 10 and it refers to an abrogated qibla which in 
the context can hardly be identified as Jerusalem (2:138). 

Positively, the Koran itself tells us the name of the place where the 
sanctuary actually was: Bakka (3 :o,o). The Islamic tradition is naturally 
at pains to identify this place with Mecca, 1 1 and none of our sources shed 
any light on its original location. There is, however, one source of un- 
certain date, the Samaritan Aramaic text known as the Asattr, which 
suggests that the name Bakka may be the residue of an archaic phase in 
the search for a Hagarene sanctuary. According to this text, the children 
of Nebajoth built Mecca, as it is written: 'as thou goest (b'kfj) towards 
Assyria, before all his brethren he fell' (Gen. 2 5 :i8). 12 The b'kb of this 
verse, read baka in Samaritan Hebrew, 13 is a clear reference to the place 
we know from the Koran as Bakka, and the context of the verse links it 
neatly with the death of Ishmael. This strained exercise in Biblical philo- 
logy might of course be nothing more than an instance of inveterate 
Samaritan antiquarianism. But it may also be that we have here the 
residue of a Hagarene attempt to procure from their Samaritan mentors a 
Pentateuchal sanction for a Hagarene sanctuary. 14 

It thus makes sense to scan the map of western Arabia for possible traces 
of discarded sanctuaries, and a number of places present interesting features 
in this context. In the Hijaz itself, the evidence is highly unsatisfactory in 
that it derives almost entirely from the Islamic tradition. There are never- 
theless two places worth noting: Yathrib, to which we shall return, 15 
and Ta'if. Ta'if presents one suspicious parallelism with Shechem in that 
both (in contrast to Mecca) are sanctuaries located in famously green 
environments; 16 and it is the subject of one suspicious Islamic tradition, 
to the effect that it had once been a place in Palestine. 17 

Further north the quality of the evidence improves, although the 
problems still evade neat solution. We now reach an area for which Jewish 
settlement is well attested in pre-Islamic times, and for which a sacred 
geography had already been sketched out in the Jewish Targums. Here, in 


The Samaritan caiques 

contrast to the deep south, the Hagarenes did not have to start from 
scratch — one reason why it was a good place to start. 

Through their habit of up-dating Biblical place-names, the Targums 
provided versions of Genesis in which the wanderings of the key figures — 
Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael — were transposed onto north-west Arabia. 1 4 
In the first place, some of these targumic renderings provided a shallow 
mapping onto provincial Arabia." The effect was to confer a patri- 
archal status on^h'e Nabatean cultic centres of Petra and Elusa. We do 
not know how late these pagan traditions survived in the area. But we have 
already noted the characteristic Hanifist transvaluation of pagan practice 
which would have applied here, and it was long ago pointed out that there 
are some curious links between the pagan cults of provincial Arabia and 
the Meccan cult as we know it from the Islamic tradition. 20 

In the second place, other renderings provided a deeper mapping in 
which the terminus was not Elusa but Hagra, 21 the Arabic al-Hijr. 22 The 
most interesting point here is the mention of Hagra in connection with 
the death of Ishmael in Gen. 2 j :i8. Al-Hijr was thus an obvious place 
for a grave of Ishmael. That the Hagarenes did in fact make this use of 
k is suggested by a curious feature of Meccan topography : even in Mecca, 
Ishmael is buried in the hijr. In other words, we seem to have here a 
striking parallel to the case of Bakka. In each case the Hagarenes appear 
to have set out to find themselves a sanctuary from Gen. 2 5 :i 8, in one 
case via the Samaritan Pentateuch, in the other via the Jewish Targum; 
and in each case they seem to have abandoned the site, taking the place- 
names with them to their final Meccan repository. 23 

The targumic renderings thus presented the north-west as appropriate 
terrain for a Hagarene sanctuary; and the connections of Mecca with al- 
Hijr and the paganism of provincial Arabia suggest that this potentiality 
may in fact have been exploited. Such a hypothesis would go well with the 
prominence of the north-west in the rather meagre Arabian geography of 
the Koran, 24 and would make sense of some anomalous indications in the 
Islamic tradition that the sanctuary was at one stage located to the north 
of Medina. 25 

But the importance of the targumic north-west in the sacred geography 
of the Hagarenes is most dramatically confirmed by what we know of the 
early history of the qibla: it is towards somewhere in north-west Arabia 
that they appear to have turned in prayer. In the first place, we have the 
archaeological evidence of two Umayyad mosques in Iraq, that of Hajjaj 
in Wasit and another attributed to roughly the same period near Baghdad. 
These mosques are oriented too far north by 33 degrees and 30 degrees 
respectively; 24 and with this we may compare the literary testimony to 
the "effect that the Iraqi qibla lay to the west. 27 Secondly, we have the 

2 3 

Whence Islam? 

literary evidence relating to Egypt. 28 From the Islamic side there is the 
tradition that the mosque of 'Amr b. al-'As in Fustat pointed too far north, 
and had to be corrected under the governorship of Qurra b. Sharik. 29 
From the Christian side we have the remarkable statement of Jacob of 
Edessa, a contemporary eye-witness, that the 'Mahgrayc' in Egypt prayed 
facing east towards the Ka'ba. 30 The combination of the archaeological 
evidence from Iraq with the literary evidence from Egypt points un- 
ambiguously to a sanctuary in north-west Arabia, and with this it is hard to 
avoid the conclusion that the location of the Hagarene sanctuary in 
Mecca was secondary. 

The other major source of perturbation in the sacred geography of 
Arabia was the search for a suitable scenario for the Mosaic activities of the 
Prophet. In the first instance this meant resiting the Hagarene exodus. 
Negatively, the Prophet was disengaged from the original Palestinian 
venture by a chronological revision whereby he died two years before 
the invasion began. 31 Positively, a less embarrassing destination for the 
exodus was sought in the non- Palestinian conquests : the Islamic tradition 
preserves traces of a transfer of the notion of the promised land to the 
invasion of Iraq, 32 and of a generalisation of the exodus to the conquered 
territories as a whole. 33 But the definitive solution was to detach the 
exodus from the conquests altogether and relocate it within Arabia. Thus 
in the Koran the 'day of redemption' (8 142) has become an episode in the 
biography of the Prophet, identified in the Islamic tradition with the 
battle of Badr. Conversely the in-gathering of the Jewish exiles to Palestine 
at the hands of the Redeemer became their expulsion from Arabia at the 
hands of a Muslim caliph, 34 and the Jewish collaborators of the Palestinian 
venture became the Arab (but not Ishmaelite) Ansar of Medina. 39 The 
transposed exodus was then sealed into its new Arabian setting with the 
tradition 'There is no bijra after the conquest of Mecca'. 36 

Transposing an exodus is complicated because it necessarily involves 
more than one place. The Islamic tradition operates with two basic cate- 
gories: the exodus takes the Prophet to the 'province', the madma? 1 
whence he prepares the recovery of the 'metropolis', the utnm al-qura. 
Now it makes good historical sense to suppose that the Prophet initiated 
the invasion of Palestine from some Arabian base. 38 This base could 
conceivably have been Yathrib, 39 although the association of Medina with 
Midian in some sources 40 and general geographical plausibility might 
suggest a location farther north. The crucial category is however the 
metropolis, originally Palestinian, but already in the Koran manifestly 
Arabian. 41 The" problem of setting up such a metropolis could be ap- 
proached in either of two ways. 

The most obvious solution was simply to up-grade the base tometro- 


The Samaritan caiques 

politan status : Muhammad's 'province' was now reinterpreted as his 'city'. 
That this solution was in part adopted is suggested by the curiously metro- 
politan character which Medina displays in certain respects : it is itself a 
sanctuary, 42 it is in effect the final destination of the Hagarene exodus, 43 
and unambiguously the political metropolis of early Islamic history. 44 
The alternative was to pivot the exodus on the provincial status of the base : 
Medina was, so to speak, held constant, while the sacred conquest shifted 
from Jerusalem to Mecca. Despite the metropolitan features of Medina, 
this is the solution to which the Islamic tradition substantially inclines. 

At this point we need to recall an important feature of the doctrinal 
background:, the advance from the religion of Abraham to that of 
Muhammad. The Abrahamic sanctuary was clearly intended as the 
Hagarene metropolis; but for an Islam conceived as the religion of 
Muhammad, a Muhammadan sanctuary might seem a more appropriate 
centre. What in fact emerged was a compromise in which Mecca retained 
the upper hand: 'Mecca was Abraham's sanctuary and Medina is my 
sanctuary,' as the Prophet says, 45 but Mecca remained the cultic centre 
of Islam. This Meccan resilience is surprising: one might have expected 
the Abrahamic sanctuary to be absorbed or left to decay along with the 
rest of the Abrahamic cult. The explanation we would suggest is that the 
primacy of Mecca was saved by the superimposition on the Abrahamic 
sanctuary of another extraneous Mosaic role. When redemption became 
scripture, the Hagarenes found themeselves in need of an Arabian Sinai. 
They had to find it moreover in a part of Arabia less contaminated by 
Judaism than Medina, the scene of the transposed andretrojected Hagarene 
break with the Jews. 

It does in fact make some .sense to analyse the Meccan complex as 
an Abrahamic sanctuary skewed by Mosaic revelation. In the Islamic 
tradition, the Meccan Sinai on which the Prophet receives his first revela- 
tion is of course Hira'. 46 But 'Arafat, the mountain belonging to the 
Abrahamic complex, also bears traces of Sinaitic contamination. In the 
first place, while the form of the bajj suggests the Samaritan pilgrimage to 
Mt Gerizim, its ritual content presents striking parallels to the Biblical 
account of the waiting of the Israelites by Mt Sinai. 41 It is as though the 
ritual were reenacting a waiting of the Ishmaelites while their own prophet 
went up their own mountain. Secondly, the Meccan complex differs in one 
major respect from that of Shechem: the 'house of God' has been moved 
from the mountain into the town 48 — though the actual ritual of sacrifice 
has, rather inconsistently, been left behind. 49 It would do something to 
explain this denudation of the mountain if the model had at some stage been 
Sinai rather than Gerizim. 

In any case, Mecca was adopted as the scene of Muhammad's early 


Whence Islam? 

revelations; and with this we have the essentials of the curious pattern of 
Hijazi sacred geography, in which the Mosaic roles of the Prophet 
are distributed between the distinct sanctuaries of Abraham and 

The other major Samaritan caique was a rationale for political authority 
among the Hagarenes. Judaic messianism, quite apart from being Judaic, 
was inherently a religious legitimation of a climactic event, not of an on- 
going authority. Equally the Christian empire which the Hagarenes dis- 
placed was a mere adjunction of two distinct conceptual orders which 
provided no intrinsically religious rationale for imperial rule. 50 What 
neither the Christians nor the Jews could contrive was an intrinsically 
religious legitimation of an on-going authority. And this, oddly enough, 
was precisely what the Samaritans could offer: the central political value 
of Samaritanism is the continuing legitimacy of the Aaronid high-priest- 
hood. 51 The eternal priesthood thus made it possible for the Hagarenes to 
abandon the millennium without collapsing into kingship. 52 

That the Islamic imamate 53 is a Samaritan caique is suggested by the 
structural resemblance of the two institutions. In each case we have an 
office in which supreme political and religious authority are fused, and in 
each case the primary qualification for office is the combination of religious 
knowledge with a sacred genealogy. 54 The analogy is obvious enough, and 
was perceived long ago: the Samaritans themselves in their Arabic writings 
adopted the imamate to translate their own high-priesthood. 55 

It is however in the case of the 'Alid imamate that the parallelism is 
most striking. In the first place, in Shi 'ism as in Samaritanism, the religious 
knowledge takes on a marked esoteric flavour. 56 Secondly, the genea- 
logical qualification sharpens into descent from a particular collateral 
of the Prophet, Aaron in the Samaritan case and 'AE in the Islamic; 57 
and the parallelism becomes explicit in the ShI'ite traditions which support 
the claims of 'All to the imamate by asserting and developing the pro- 
position that 'Ali is to Muhammad as Aaron to Moses. 58 Thirdly, it is in 
some remarks on the Shi 'ism of the second civil war in what appears to be 
a near-contemporary Arabic text that the clearest characterisation of 
priestly authority in Islam is to be found, accompanied by the striking 
designation of the priests as kabins.* 9 Finally, it is just possible that in the 
Koranic account of the golden calf we have an allegorical condemnation 
of the Samaritan role in the making of the 'Alid high-priesthood. 60 

As in the case of the Meccan sanctuary, the case for a Samaritan model 
is basically a rather simple one. But here again, this case needs to be 
qualified by an attempt to sketch in the evolution which the concepts 
underwent in Hagarism before achieving their definitive Islamic form. The 


The Samaritan caiques 

source of the perturbations in this case seems to have been a secondary 
resurgence of Judaic influence. 

The notion of a high-priesdy authority was not of course alien to 
rabbinic Judaism. But the actual character of religious authority as it existed 
in this milieu was clearly antithetical to the smooth functioning of such an 
institution. In the long run this does much to account for the differentiation 
of orthodox Islam from Shi 'ism: with the dispersal of religious authority 
among a disorganised learned laity, 61 it is hardly surprising that the 
genealogical qualification should have been relaxed and that imamic learn- 
ing should have lost its esoteric edge. In the short run, the rabbinical back- 
ground helps to explain the emergence in the strongly Judaic milieu of Iraq 
of a movement which stripped the imamate of its priestly character. 
Kharijism did of course in general accept the imamate — what concrete 
alternative did Judaism have to offer? But the knowledge of the imam was 
denuded of any esoteric quality, and the very notion of a sacred genealogy 
was rejected. 62 It is appropriately to the Kharijites who seceded from 
'Ali in the first civil war that the Islamic tradition attributes the slogan 
'there is no judgment but God's': despite the characteristically Samaritan 
form of the jingle, its content looks passably like a denial of one of the 
basic high-priesdy prerogatives. 63 

The most important Judaic contribution was, however, the reassertion 
of the original messianic drive of Judeo-Hagarism in a new conceptual 
setting. It was again in Iraq that the messiah returned as the mahdi. 64 
Doctrinally, the transformation undergone by the repressed messiah was 
considerable, and indeed it seems most likely that the model for the mahdi 
was originally not the messiah but Moses redivivus. 65 But whatever the 
doctrinal disparity, it is clear enough that the mahdi had inherited the role 
of political redeemer which lies at the heart of Judaic messianism. 

It thus makes sense in genetic terms to identify two quite distinct 
Hagarene attempts to define the meaning of their politics : the continuing 
legitimacy of a Samaritan high-priesthood as against the imminent con- 
summation of a neo- Judaic mahdism. It also makes a fair amount of sense 
in terms of the Islamic sources to insist on the distinct and even antithetical 
character of the two notions into at least the middle of the eighth century. 
On the one hand we have the imamate handed down in the priesdy 'Alid 
lineages of Hasan and Husayn, the Eliezer and Ithamar of the Samaritan 
schema, and the freedom of these lineages from mahdic contamination until 
the period after the 'Abbasid revolution. And on the other hand we have 
the outer lineages of the holy family, pretenders who have no status within 
the Samaritan schema and whose primary roles are mahdic. 66 

Yet at some stage, perhaps in the half century after the 'Abbasid 
revolution, the two antithetical notions interacted. What concerns us about 


Whence Islam? 

this rapprochement is not its politics but its central conceptual mechanism. 
It is a prominent feature of the doctrine attributed by the Islamic sources 
to Ibn Saba' that 'AH is identified as the heir of Muhammad in explicit 
analogy with Joshua in respect of Moses. 67 This use of the Mosaic schema 
has two interesting implications. In the first place, Joshua was not just 
the successor of Moses, but his only successor. To identify 'AH, not as the 
first of a line of high priests, but as the sole successor of the Prophet, was 
to clear the future for the coming of the mahdi. Secondly, to cast 'Ali as 
Joshua is properly to make of him a layman unrelated to the Prophet, as 
opposed to a priesdy brother. 68 

The archaic purity of this doctrine is apparent in the way it turns on 
the fact that 'All cannot be Aaron and Joshua at once. But the coexistence 
of rival castings of 'All was likely to issue in conflation, and the key to the 
Islamic notion of the imamate is precisely the fusion of the two Mosaic 
figures. The Joshuan successor and the Aaronic brother have come together 
in the compromise which makes 'Ali the cousin of the Prophet. 69 More 
generally, the eternal priesthood and the sole successorship have merged 
into a line of more or less priesdy successors, with the characteristic 
Shi'ite identification of the last of the line as the mahdi. The qualifications 
for office — religious knowledge, more or less esoteric, and a sacred 
genealogy, more or less narrowly defined — combine with the dynastic 
pattern to perpetuate the Samaritan high-priesthood. But the identi- 
fication of the institution as a successorship to the Prophet constitutes 
the residue of the mahdic manipulation of the figure of Joshua. The fusion 
was nicely expressed in a rcinterpretation of the idea of the caliphate: 70 
the vicar of God (khalifat allah) became the Prophet's successor (khalifat 
rasul allah), 11 and the first such successor was neady accommodated in 
the two-year gap created by the retrojection of the Prophet's death to 




With the elevation of Muhammad to the role of a scriptural prophet and 
the assimilation of the Samaritan borrowings, Hagarism had given way to 
something recognisably Islamic. Hie transition can plausibly be placed in 
the late seventh century, and more particularly in the reign of 'Abd 
al- Malik. On the one hand, the numismatic, documentary and architectural 
remains of this period manifest a new and assured religious persona. 1 
And on the other, the period is marked in the Islamic tradition by the 
destruction and rebuilding of sanctuaries, 2 political conflicts revolving 
around mahdic and imamic themes, and the attempt to impose a standard 
Koranic text — memories which find some confirmation outside the tra- 
dition, 3 and are strongly suggestive of a period of drastic religious change. 
Further, it is to the reign of 'Abd al- Malik that recent research has traced 
the origins of Islamic theology. 4 There is thus reason to assume that the 
outlines of Islam as we know it had akeady appeared by the beginning of 
the eighth century. 

There is, however, no reason to include in these outlines the rabbinical 
culture which is so pronounced a feature of classical Islam. 3 In the first 
place, such a development is a priori unlikely. 'Abd al- Malik's Islam had 
emerged under Syrian aegis, and there was little in the Syrian environment 
to force upon the Hagarenes the combination of a holy law with a learned 
laity. The initial Hagarene involvement with Judaism had been too brief 
in duration and too messianic in content to leave much scholastic residue. 
Equally the slow percolation of cultural influence from the overwhelmingly 
Christian environment was unlikely to push the Hagarenes in this direction. 
Above all Samaritanism, the major influence on the structure of Hagarism 
in its formative period, provided a model which was substantially the anti- 
thesis of the rabbinical pattern. In terms of the social embodiment of 
religious authority, Samaritanism is characterised by the esoteric learning 
of a hereditary priestly elite ; and in terms of the intellectual content of this 
learning, Samaritanism, for all its Mosaic emphasis, does not appear to 
have been a halakhic faith to anything like the same extent as Judaism. 6 

In the second place, such scant evidence as we have regarding the 
relevant aspects of Hagarism 7 tends to confirm these inferences in two 

2 9 

Whence Islam? 

ways. First, there are indications from the Islamic side of the relative 
insignificance of the category of religious law in Hagarism. Islamic law 
preserves memories of Umayyad legal practice, but hardly of anything that 
could be styled Umayyad law* and equally, the scripture which Hagarism 
bequeathed to classical Islam was one distinctly low in halakhic content. 9 
Secondly, it is worth noting that in so far as there are indications of legal 
awareness, they point to a holy law based squarely if naively on scripture. 1 

There can in fact be little doubt that Islam acquired its classical rabbinic 
form in the shadow of Babylonian Judaism, probably in the aftermath of 
the transfer of power from Syria to Iraq in the middle of the eighth century. 
The Judaic model is established by the fact that no other faith offered the 
same combination of holy law and learned laity, and this general structural 
resemblance is reinforced by the evidence of specific borrowings, most 
obviously the method and term qtyas. il The Babylonian environment is 
scarcely more open to doubt: Babylonia was in this period the unrivalled 
centre of rabbinic Judaism, and it is equally to this region that research 
from the Islamic side has traced the origins of Islamic law. 12 

The attitude of the early Iraqi schools towards the sources of law is 
correspondingly close to that of the rabbis. In particular, there is the same 
rather unthinking acceptance of an oral tradition perfunctorily placed under 
the general aegis of the relevant prophet. In the eyes of the rabbis their oral 
tradition as a whole went back to Moses, as in the maxim that 'All Torah 1 3 
is Mosaic halakha from Sinai.' 14 Likewise the early Iraqi lawyers use the 
notion of 'sitnna of the Prophet' to invoke a similarly general sanction for 
the living tradition of their school. 15 At the same time the role of scripture 
in early Islamic law appears to have been minimal, 16 which may reflect 
a combination of a simplistic mishnaic model with the belated appearance 
of the Koran. 17 One is tempted to say that the halakha of Iraq is as innocent 
of scripture as the scripture of Syria is innocent of halakha. 

This innocence was rudely terminated by the interconfessional rumpus 
on the status of oral tradition which broke out in the second half of the 
eighth century. This controversy was an event of major significance in both 
the Jewish and Muslim communities, and it even seems to have infected the 
most important Christian community of Babylonia, the Nestorians. 18 In 
both Judaism and Islam, the established way of thinking was challenged 
by an outright rejection of oral tradition in favour of a uniquely scriptural 
foundation for the sacred law. On the Judaic side, this rejection took the 
form of Karaism. On the Muslim side, it appears as an early doctrine of the 
Mu'tazila. 19 

If the issue was the same in both communities, the resources available to 
the opposing groups were significandy different. In the Judaic case, the 
rabbis were already in the habit of attributing their tradition to Moses 



and could cite a chain of authorities to establish the authenticity of the 
transmission; 20 this chain was duly refurbished to meet the Karaite chal- 
lenge. 21 But the rabbis were in no position to proceed in this fashion in 
respect of each individual item of the tradition. The history of its trans- 
mission between Moses and the rabbis had been preempted by categories 
which were too clumsily unitary to admit of such differentiation. Hence the 
talmudic dimension of rabbinic scholarship, the attempt of the gemara to 
establish that the individual items were not only mutually compatible but 
also scripturally sanctioned 22 . And because the rabbis were in possession 
of a large and varied scriptural corpus with a good measure of halakhic 
content, the opportunities for such demonstration were quite rich. 

Now it can be argued that any fundamentalist rejection of tradition 
needs more in the way of stuffing than is to be found among the fossilised 
meanings of scripture. To that extent the difference between the Judaic and 
Islamic rejections is simply that where the former finds its stuffing in 
Qumranic messianism, 23 the latter finds it in Greek rationalism. 24 But not 
all scriptures are equally amenable to the purposes of fundamentalists, and 
in this case the differing endowment of the two groups was arguably 
crucial. Just because the rabbis had the scriptural resources for their gemara, 
their Karaite opponents could hope to make a viable legal position of what 
one might call their reduction of mishna to midrash. The Hebrew scrip- 
tures, heavily exploited by analogy, thus sufficed to keep Karaism in 
business as a halakhic faith. 25 The Mu'tazila were less fortunate: their 
scripture was shorter, less varied, thinner in halakhic content, and the result- 
ing strain is manifest in two ways. On the one hand, Mu'tazilite law is all 
root and no branch : 26 they attempt to eke out the scriptural foundations of 
law with reason, and end up with reason instead of law. And on the other 
hand, the outright rejection of the oral tradition itself disappears from the 
doctrines of the school. 27 Islamic law was always happy to place itself 
under a general Koranic aegis ; but the reduction of mishna to midrash item 
by item is just not a feasible operation in Islam. 

■ The Muslim rabbis, by contrast, were far better placed than their Jewish 
equivalents to respond to the fundamentalist challenge. The history of the 
transmission of the oral tradition between the Prophet and the eight- 
century scholars was still grarifyingly plastic. It was therefore possible to 
defend the oral tradition item by item, tracing back each individual element 
to the Prophet with some suitable chain of authorities [imad). Where the 
fundamentalists "have failed to reduce Muslim mishna to midrash, the 
traditionists were able to glorify it by the multiplication of imads : the 
criticism of isndas is the Muslim gemara. 2 * 

I He triumph of Shafi'i's solution to the problem of the oral tradition 
can thus be seen as an apt response to the logic of the situation. But it was 

3 1 

Whence Islam? 

more than that. Both the naive acceptance of the oral tradition among the 
early Iraqi lawyers, and its outright rejection among the Mu'tazila, display 
the old Hagarene dependence on non-Muslim, in this case Judaic, models. 29 
Now Shafi'i's solution, like so much else, makes its first appearance in 
Babylonia ; 30 and it can be related in a peripheral fashion to earlier rabbinic 
notions. 31 Yet the fact remains that it is without substantial Judaic ante- 
cedents. The Hagarenes had achieved a new, independent and effective 

solution to a central dilemma of learned monotheism; and with this their 
undignified clientage to the peoples they had conquered was finally at an 

But the evolution whereby Islam attained this academic distinction was 
also the final negation of its redemptive origins. When in the course of the 
original messianic venture the Hagarenes left Arabia, they did so in order 
to go home, to establish themselves in a promised land that was theirs to 
enjoy by a divinely conferred right of inheritance. Judaic redemption had 
subsequently given way to the Samaritan caiques : the high priest took the 
place of the messiah, the Abrahamic sanctuary that of Jerusalem. It was a 
transposition into a lower key, a shift from momentary frenzy to institu- 
tional permanence, but it was not in itself an unhappy one. Samaritanism 
is not an exilic faith, and the link between its sanctuary and its priesthood, 
however forced in scriptural terms, 32 is ancient and intimate. In Islam, 
however, this link was broken. The exigencies of politics required a 
Hagarene metropolis in the conquered territories, those of religion de- 
manded its location in the depths of Arabia. Mu'awiya may have worn no 
crown, but he did not wish to return to the seat of Muhammad. 33 There 
does at one stage seem to have been a certain concern to restore the link. 
Whatever credit one ascribes to the traditions regarding 'Abd al-Malik's 
attempt to divert the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock is an 
architecturally metropolitan building. 34 And against this suggestion of a 
pragmatic Umayyad attempt to bring the sanctuary to the high-priesthood 
can be set Ibn al-Zubayr's Utopian determination to take the high-priest- 
hood to the sanctuary. But thereafter the break was definitive. 

The result was the introduction of an exilic quality into the relation- 
ship between political authority and sacred geography in Hagarism. And 
when the 'Abbasid revolution issued in the transfer of the high-priesthood 
from Syria to Babylonia, the stage was set for its eventual degeneration 
into a mere exilarchate, 35 the shadow of a shadow, finally to disappear at 
the hands of the Mongols in the company of its Judaic equivalent. Even 
among the Imamis, the politically inert high priests were carted off from 
their 'Alid metropolis into Babylonish captivity, and the captivity in due 
course compounded by a concealment that was virtually transcendental. 



For those Shi'itcs who persisted in regarding the reality of a high-priest- 
hood as a central religious value, there remained of course the alternative 
of compounding Babylonish captivity with an exodus to the doubly exilic 
mountain-tops of the Caspian or the Yemen. But in Babylonia itself the key 
value of religious politics was a dispirited perpetuation of the quietism of 
the rabbis in the face of an alien or desanctified state. 36 The long and 
intricate religious evolution of the Hagarenes was thus not without a cer- 
tain ironic circularity. Their religious odyssey began and ended with 
Judaism, and in the process the Samaritan sanctuary in Arabia and the 
Samaritan high-priesthood in Syria had cancelled out. But there was also 
tragic development in the apparent circularity. The redemptive Judaism 
of Palestine had given way to the academic Judaism of Babylonia, good 
tidings to Zion to prayers for the peace of Babylon. The Hagarenes had 
abandoned the messiah only to end up with an exilarch, they had rejected 
the Jewish miqdasb only to end up in the same medinah. 31 

There was of course a crucial difference: the Hagarenes were their 
own jailors, and their exile was to that extent a better appointed one. 38 
They still had honour, love, obedience, troops of friends. Their sanctuary, 
though on occasion burnt, was not destroyed in the manner of the Jewish 
Temple: they never actually became mourners of Mecca. And for all their 
quietism, they retained a residual zealotism which even among the Imamis 
could in due course be activated by the menace of infidel rule. 39 But if 
the comforts of self-imposed exile were substantial, its costs went very 
deep. The Jews went into exile having lost everything to the ovcwhelming 
malevolence of an infidel power; if it was a punishment for their sins, God 
had at least sent the Babylonians to punish them. 40 The very totality of the 
deprivation in the present, and its essentially exogenous character, meant 
that the Jews had catharsis and hope. But the Mongols came too late to 
perform such a service for the emotional economy of Islam. 

Without catharsis, the past was blighted. Few peoples can claim a 
more standingly successful history than the Arabs in the period from the 
conquests to the fall of the Umayyads ; and yet the classical sources breathe 
an air of utter disillusion. The Umayyads were branded as kings, their 
policy as tyranny, their taxation as extortion, 41 their conquests as tajmir, 42 
and their beliefs as impiety; only the losing parties in the civil wars of the 
period stood any chance of retrospective sanctification. 43 But the blight 
reaches back even into the inner-Arabian history of the patriarchal cali- 
phate, and eats away the moral standing of such heroes of the conquests as 
'Amr b. al-'As and Khalid b. al-Wahd. And without catharsis, there was 
equally no hope: the withering of the past meant the withering of the 
future. When the Jews went into exile, they took with them the memory of 
a sacred past the future restoration of which became a central religious 


Whence Islam? 

value. But the Hagarcnes, because it was their own conquests that had 
taken them into exile, and because they had no oppressors but themselves, 
had no relevant past to restore: all the glory of Kedar had failed. Where 
the messiah comes to reinstate the political reality of the Davidic monarchy, 
the mahdi merely fills the world with a historically colourless justice. 44 
Where the in-gathering of the Israelite exiles is a central theme of the mes- 
sianic programme, the eschatological in-gathering of the Ishmaelites is a 
purely Christian fantasy. 45 The mourners of Zion may one day have beauty 
for ashes; but Ishmael has no redeemer, they enjoyed him in the days of 
'Umar the Faruq. The whirlwinds in the south abated to leave Islam, like 
Judaism, as a religion dominated by the legalism of Babylonian rabbis: 
but whereas in Judaism the other side of the coin is messianic hope, in Islam 
it is Sufi resignation. 



The Kenite 

Three passages in the 'Secrets* (see above, p. 4) make reference to Num. 24:21. 
This verse forms part of Balaam's classic messianic prophecy, and runs : 'And he 
looked upon the Kenite, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwelling- 
place, and thy nest is set in the rock* (the pun on qen = 'nest* and qeni = 'Kenite' 
is lost in translation). Numbering the lines in Jellinek's text, the passages in the 
'Secrets* are the following: 

(1 ) 'And he [in the context, Rabbi Simon] began to sit and expound "And he 
looked upon the Kenite" ' (lines 4f ; the Geniza fragment (see Lewis, 
'Apocalyptic Vision', p. 309x1) adds the next three words of the verse). 

(2) 'Again, "And he looked upon the Kenite": and what parable did the 
wicked one [Balaam] take up, except that when he saw the sons of his 
[the Kenite 's] sons who were to arise and subject Israel, he began to 
rejoice, and said, "Strong is thy dwellingplace"? I see that the sons of 
man do not eat save according to the commandments of Ethan the 
Ezrahite' (lines 21— 5 ; for the reference to Ethan, see below, p. 163, 

(3) 'And he [in the context, the second Ishmaelite king] builds a mosque 
(hisbtabau/ayab) there on the Temple rock, as it is said, "thy nest is set 
in the rock" (line 28). 

Who is the Kenite ? In the 'Prayer of Rabbi Simon ben Yohay ', an apocalypse of 
the time of the Crusades in which a version of the 'Secrets' is embedded, the 
answer is in principle clear enough: the Kenite represents an oppressive kingdom 
immediately preceding that of Ishmacl (Lewis, 'Apocalyptic Vision', pp. 3 1 2f ). 
Whether we should think in terms of Rome (see Lewis's commentary, ibid., p. 3 2 1 ) 
or Persia (cf. the Kenite siege of Jerusalem, ibid., p. 312) does not greatly matter 
for us. But can we read the same answer back into the 'Secrets', the source from 
which the figure of the Kenite in the 'Prayer' is manifesdy taken? Two arguments 
indicate that we cannot, and that instead we have to identify the Kenite with the 
Arabs themselves. In the first place, there is the internal evidence. Negatively, there 
is no ground for taking the Kenite to precede the Arabs, since he is mentioned both 
before and after the kingdom of Ishmael appears; and specifically, there is no 
reason to take him to represent Rome, which is already cast as Edom (lines 2 and6). 
Positively, there is good reason to identify the Kenite with the Arabs, since Num. 
24 :2i is cited in connection with their building activities on the Temple Mount. 
Secondly, there is the external evidence. There already existed a well-established 
tradition regarding the identity of the Kenite. The standard rendering is 'Shal- 
rnians' (see for example Onqelos, pseudo- Jonathan and Neophyti to Gen. 15:19, 

i :: 3 5 

Appendix I 

and Onqelos, Fragmentary Targum and Neophyti to Num, 24 :2i), an Arabian 
tribe closely associated with the Nabateans (see particularly Stephanus of Byzan- 
tium, Etbnikfi-, s.n. 'Salamioi'). Other renderings include 'Nabateans' (Babylonian 
Talmud, Baba Batra, f. 56a, but the text is corrupt), 'Arabs' (Jerusalem Talmud, 
Sbebfit, f. 35b), and 'Jethro the proselyte* (pseudo- Jonathan to Num. 24:21). 
Against this background, an identification with Rome or Persia is as out of place 
as one with the Arabs is apt. 

If the Kenite of the 'Secrets' represents the Arabs, what was the point of the 
identification? The exposition of Num. 24:21 advanced in the first sentence of the 
second passage is highly unfavourable to the Kenite. But a number of features 
of this exposition call for suspicion. First, the exposition was promised in the 
first passage, but only turns up 16 lines later. Second, the interpretation of 
Balaam's complimentary remarks to the Kenite as the expression of his personal 
anti-Israelite sentiment is quite improper: Balaam is a prophet who can speak only 
the words which God puts into his mouth. Thirdly, this contrived interpretation 
goes against the whole background of rabbinic exegesis of the verse, as will shortly 
be seen. There are thus strong grounds for suspecting the anti-Arab interpretation 
of Num. 24 :2 1 in the text as we now have it to be a secondary interpolation, a 
revision comparable in motive to the neutralisation of the messianic interpretation 
of Is. 21:7 by Dan. 11:39 ^ 4 :1 3- 1° which case, can we infer from the 
rabbinic background what the message of the censored exposition might have been ? 

In the first place, it is in relation to Jethro that the rabbis adduce Num.24 .2 1 
(Babylonian Talmud, Sanbedrin, f. 106a; Exodus Rabbab, 27: 3, 6; compare the 
targumic rendering of 'the Kenite' as 'Jethro the proselyte' cited above). Jethro 
is of course the father-in-law of Moses and the model proselyte (B. J. Bamberger, 
Proselytism in the Talmudic Period 1 , New York 1968, pp. 182—91). It is thus 
unsurprising that the rabbis should take the verse as a divine pronouncement in 
Jethro 's favour, and there is a strong presumption that the original exposition 
in the 'Secrets' would have done likewise. Secondly, the primary source of this 
benevolent attitude towards the Kenites is their participation in the events of die 
first redemption. Thus rabbinic discussions of the source of the privileged position 
of the Kenite (and at the same time Rcchabite) scribes of I Chr. 2:55 regularly 
cite Judges 1 :i6, according to which the Kenites 'went up out of the city of palm 
trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah . . . and dwelt among 
the people' (Babylonian Talmud, Sanbedrin, ff. 104a, 106a; cf. Si/re on Num. 
10:29). I* ' s ^us very plausible that the original exposition of the 'Secrets' should 
have alluded to this participation. Thirdly, the messianic potential of this material 
is obvious : simple application of the principle of the parallelism of the Mosaic and 
messianic redemptions (see below, p. 158, n.46) yields a neat Judaic rationale for an 
Arab role in a Jewish messianic venture; and it is again plausible that the censored 
exposition should have contained a rationale of this kind. There is moreover one 
late midrashic source which provides a suggestive parallel. Makhiri includes in 
his materials to Is. 52:7 some observations on the role of the Rechabites in the 
messianic age : it is they who will bring the good tidings to Jerusalem, and what is 
more they will enter the Temple and sacrifice there (J. Spira (ed.), Yalqut ba- 
Makhiri 'al Yesbdyabu, Berlin 1894, p. 195). The Rechabites, as explicitly stated 


The Kenite 

in I Chr. 2:55, are Kenites (a circumstance not without interest in the context of 
the wine tabu), and are thus, in the view of the rabbis, descendants of Jethro (see 
for example Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmdel, 'Amaleq, 4 to Ex. 18:27). 

Is the figure of the Kenite the residue of what was once an independent apo- 
calypse ? Three points suggest that it is. First, it would hardly be legitimate for the 
Arabs to appear as both Kenites and Ishmaelitcs within a single apocalyptic inter- 
pretation. Secondly, the Kenite passages are poorly integrated with the rest of the 
apocalypse: the first passage in particular is strikingly out of place (preparing to 
embark on an exegesis of Num. 24:21 is scarcely an appropriate reaction to an 
eschatological vision in which in any case the Kenite plays no pan, and in fact we 
return to the vision immediately). Thirdly, there is a difference of language. As 
shown below (p. 1 5 3 , n. 1 3 ), the interpretation of Is. 2 1 : 7 makes sense only if the 
passage was originally cited from the Targum, whereas in both the second and third 
Kenite passages, the original Hebrew is required (for the pun on elan in the second 
passage, see below, p. 163, n. 22; the third passage turns on taking 'the rock' as a 
reference to the Temple rock, a connection which is rather lost if one substitutes the 
targumic renderings 'the cleft of the rock' (Neophyti),' 'the clefts of the rocks' 
(pseudo- Jonathan), 'a cleft' (Fragmentary Targum), 'a fortress' (Onqelos)). There is 
thus reason to think that the 'Secrets' preserves the residue of two originally 
independent messianic interpretations of the Arab conquest. 

Reason and Custom 

If our analysis of the relationship of Islamic to Judaic jurisprudential categories 
is right, it needs extension to two less obviously Jewish notions. First, early 
Islamic law is marked by the prominence of the term ra'y in the senses of 'opinion' 
(of an individual) or 'reasoning' (in general) (Schacht, Origins, pp. 79, 98ff, 
and cf. van Ess, 'Untersuchungen', p. 27 ; synonyms include fiqh. Encyclopaedia 
of Islam 1 , s.v.). The corresponding Judaic terms are dd at (usually but not always 
individual) and severa (general, but often accompanied by the verb savar introduc- 
ing individual views) (see Bacher, Exegetische Terminologie, s.w.). The Judaic 
usage, like the early Islamic, is not pejorative. Secondly, early Islamic law has 
a high regard for the authority of custom or practice: 'amal or sunna (Schacht, 
Origins, pp. 58ff, and cf. van Ess, 'Untersuchungen', p. 42), the latter not yet 
identified as that of the Prophet. The Judaic equivalents are minbag and mdase 
{Encyclopaedia Judaica, s.w.). On both sides we find the idea that custom can 
abrogate law (compare the set phrase minhag mevattel halakba with Schacht, 
Origins, pp. 63 (where Ibn Qasim lacks only the term halakha le-ma'ase), 80). 

The impact of the eighth-century controversy on these categories is visible 
on both sides, but is predictably more drastic in the Islamic case. First, the 
Jewish reassertion of the authority of the oral tradition leads to the playing down 
of sevara : witness the claim of Yehudai Gaon (c. 760) that he had never answered 
a question if he did not have both proof from the Talmud and the practical 
endorsement of his teacher, who in turn had it from his teacher (Ginzberg, 
Genhp Studies, vol. ii, pp. 5 5 8f ). On the Islamic side (the long-term emergence 
of a similar taqCtd apart) we have two countervailing shifts: ray is downgraded 
into a term of abuse (identified as individual, it is dismissed as subjective); and 


Appendix 1 

fiqh is kicked upstairs to become a term for law in general. Secondly, tninbag is 
likewise under pressure: it is again Yehudai Gaon who writes to the Land of 
Israel to urge the abandonment of practices adopted under Byzantine persecution 
in favour of a full observance of the law (the Palestinians, provincials in this 
story, obstinately replied that custom abrogates law) (ibid., pp. Jjoi). The 
parallel development in Islam is the assault on the legal pretensions of practice: 
Shafi'i meets with the same obstinacy in the 'Land of Ishmacl' as Yehudai in 
the Land of Israel (see particularly Schacht, Origins, p. 6 5 ). But again, the Islamic 
development is twofold: 'amal is downgraded into mere practice and more or 
less dismissed, but surma is elevated into that of the Prophet and becomes 

Finally, we would like to return to the question of priority in the funda- 
mentalist rejection of the oral tradition. Shafi'i disputing with those who reject 
all traditions for the Koran (ibid., pp. 4of ) and Ben Baboi fulminating against 
pigs who study the written but deny the oral Torah (Ginzberg, Geni-ig Studies, 
vol. ii, p. 571) are contemporaries whom we know at first hand; and we need 
have few qualms about tracing the rejection they condemn back to 'Ananb. David 
and Dirar b. 'Amr. But how much older is it? On the Jewish side, the question is 
how far the Sbeiltot of Ahai of Shavha (d. 7 5 2) indicate Karaism as a movement 
to have been in the making in his lifetime. On the Islamic side, is one to read the 
position of Dirar into such fragmentary data as we have for the views of 'Amr 
b. 'Ubayd (d. 761)? 

But there is also evidence of a naive fundamentalism (one without explicit 
rejection of oral tradition) at a very early stage in the evolution of Islam (below, 
p. 168, n. 20); the impression that this antedates the Koran itself is reinforced 
by the dispute over the penalty for adultery (below, p. 180, n. 17), by the 
implication of the term ahl al-kjtab that the early Muslims recognised only one 
book which was not their own, and even by some Koranic texts (above, p. 17, 
and below, p. 179, n. 10). Despite our ignorance of Samaritan jurisprudence 
in this period, it is worth speculating that this naive fundamentalism may have 
accompanied, or been suggested by, the Samaritan scriptural position (cf. Marqah's 
insistence that 'we do not believe [in anything] outside your [Gods] Torah', 
Ben-Hayyim, Literary and Oral Tradition, p. 196). Now this fundamentalism 
appears to have a certain Fortleben in two texts which claim to date from the end 
of the seventh century, and are certainly early. They combine a striking in- 
nocence of hadttb with a great reliance on scripture (by now, of course, the 
Koran), and occasionally describe the Koran in a fundamentalist vein (see 
Schacht, 'Sur l'expression "Sunna du Prophete'", p. 363, for the episde of 
'Abdallah b. Ibad, and Ritter, 'Studien zur Geschichte der islamischen From- 
migkeit', p. 68, for that of Hasan al-Basri). The possibility thus arises that the 
immediate background to the explicit rejection of the oral tradition in both 
Judaism and Islam was not Jewish but Islamic. 






A polytheistic world-view is capable of eliciting a rich and subde range of 
meanings from a many-faceted reality. It is however likely to do so at a 
price : what its meanings stand to gain in variety, they also stand to lose 
in power. In particular, polytheism is neither unitary enough to provide 
a really drastic articulation of the subjective solidarity of a people, nor 
sweeping enough to provide a really penetrating account of the objective 
nature of a universe. The problem is that there is no one replacement of 
polytheism in these two roles. The first is best performed by a personal 
God, the second by impersonal concepts — a polarity well caught in the 
contrast between Judaism and Buddhism. And while it is perfecdy possible 
to mix or misuse the categories,' it is not possible to maximise on the 
potentialities of both at the same time. The choices made by the Iranians 
and the Greeks were less monolithic than those embodied in Judaism and 
Buddhism; but they were sufficiendy different to provide the clue to the 
subsequent divergence of the histories of the two peoples. 

The intellectual context in which Zoroastrianism took shape was one 
which the Iranians shared with the Greeks and the Indians: in roughly 
the same period, and with roughly the same intellectual resources, 2 the 
three peoples embarked on a shift away from a more or less disintegrating 
polytheistic heritage and towards a more unitary and conceptual cosmo- 
logy. But the historical context of Zoroaster's career is in one crucial 
respect more reminiscent of Moses than of Parmenides or the Buddha: 
Zoroastrianism was formed in a milieu dominated by the ethnic con- 
frontation of Iran and Turan. It is not therefore surprising that the genetic 
relationship between the Zoroastrian cosmos and that of the Greeks or the 
Indians is in the last resort less striking than the analogous relationship 
between the Zoroastrian God and that of the Hebrews. The Zoroastrians 
did indeed have a cosmology in a sense in which the Jews did not ; but out 
of this cosmology they had synthesised a personal God whose confron- 
tation with the forces of evil constituted the overriding meaning of the 
universe. 3 The Magi equally possessed a philosophy in a sense in which 
the rabbis did not: but it was a philosophy directed less towards the con- 
templative understanding of an impersonal cosmic process than towards 
active participation in a personal cosmic struggle. 


Whither Antiquity? 

This had two fundamental implications for the character of the Zoro- 
astrian community. In the first place, Zoroastrianism designated Iran as 
a nation apart. Positively, Zoroastrianism is a sanctification of Aryan 
ethnicity : Ahura Mazda is as much the 'God of the Aryans' 4 as Yahweh is 
the 'God of Israel'. Negatively, Zoroastrianism is not for export to 
Aneran. 5 In principle Zoroastrian dualism, like Judaic monotheism, could 
be seen as a truth for all mankind; in practice the lesson of Manichaeism, 
as of Christianity, is that to make the universal message universally avail- 
able was not to export the religion but to create a new one. 6 Like Judaism, 
Zoroastrianism could tolerate a limited penumbra of gentile adherents: 
the collaborating aristocrats of subject peoples in the Iranian case cor- 
respond to the spiritual fellow-travellers of the Jewish case. But Zoro- 
astrianism remained fundamentally a religious persuasion rooted in the 
land of its birth. Against the outside world, the Aryans were as much a 
chosen people as the Jews. 

In the second place, the corollary of external ethnic distinctiveness 
was a commitment to internal social pervasiveness. The Zoroastrian world- 
view provided no sanction for a philosophical indifference towards the 
philomythical proclivities of the masses. Zoroaster had not transcended 
the traditional polytheism of the Iranians, he had taken it apart and 
reformed it ; and both the masses and their gods had accordingly to take 
sides in the all-engulfing cosmic struggle. Some of the old gods, like 
Mithra, reappeared on the side of the angels; others, like Indra, were 
transvalued into demons. And the worship of demons could not in the 
Zoroastrian conception be less than cosmic and national treason. What was 
actually done about the demonic menace was of course a historically 
contingent matter; the Parthians in particular do not seem to have been 
much concerned by it. But an attempt to eradicate demon-worship is 
already attested in the Achaemenid inscriptions, and the theme is a favou- 
rite one in the Sasanid period. 7 There was thus no more room for the 
demons and their worshippers in Iran than there was for the baalim and 
their worshippers in Israel; internally, the Aryans were as much a nation 
of priests as the Jews. In sum, Zoroastrianism was built to be at once 
horizontally exclusive and vertically inclusive: the faith, in other words, 
of a nation. 

But if the national roles of Ahura Mazda and Yahweh are strikingly 
similar, their ecological roles are diametrically opposed. Yahweh was the 
God of the barbarian conquerors of a settled and civilised Canaan : in his 
name they came out of the desert, and in his name they withdrew to the 
ghetto when eventually the conquest was reversed. Ahura Mazda by con- 
trast was the God of a setded Canaanite society defending its way of life 
against nomadic invaders; he does not perhaps appear as a culturally 


The imperial civilisations 

sophisticated deity in the manner of Enki, but he is in no wise a com- 
mitted barbarian in the manner of Yahwch. The result was a felicity in 
the relationship of Zoroastrianism to the institutional heritage of its 
Canaanite milieu that is notably absent from Judaism. 

In the first place, Zoroastrianism lived in easy symbiosis with the 
Magian priesthood ; and the Magi could contribute to the realisation of the 
national potential of Zoroastrianism in two ways. With regard to the 
external demarcation of the chosen people, the religious status of priestly 
genealogy apdy reinforced that of ethnic genealogy : the Aryans, in Canon 
Rawlinson's adaption of Eudemus, are those who have the Magi for their 
priests. 8 And with regard to the internal consolidation of the community, 
the Magi provided the rudiments of an institution wherewith to render the 
doctrine socially effective: the Magian priesthood of Achaemenid times 
became the Zoroastrian church of Sasanid times. 

In the second place, Zoroastrianism conferred an unambiguous religious 
meaning on Aryan kingship. In Iran as in Israel, an intrinsically religious 
sanction was available for the effective political leadership of the chosen 
people against its enemies. But in the Israelite case the rejection of the 
Canaanite heritage meant that this blessing went more easily to the early 
prophets and judges than to the belated national monarchs. In Iran, by 
contrast, the twinship of religion and kingship was historically aboriginal 
and doctrinally unproblematic; and the legitimation of the monarchic 
government of a settled society carried with it the legitimation of the 
aristocratic substructure that goes with it. 9 Already in the Achaemenid 
inscriptions Ahura Mazda is the tutelary deity of an Aryan kingship, and 
all rebels against this authority are construed as representatives of the Lie. 10 

The Zorastrian tradition is thus the articulation of a fully integrated 
identity. Doctrinally the cosmic confrontation of good and evil reappears 
in the ethnic confrontation of Iran and Aneran; institutionally the relig- 
ious role of the Magian priesthood is matched by the political role of 
Aryan kingship. The persistence of such a tradition in the face of Mace- 
donian conquest is hardly surprising; even the partial resuscitation of the 
past at the hands of the Parthians goes far beyond anything achieved in the 
same period by the Egyptians or the Babylonians. The full-blooded revival 
of the tradition at the hands of the Sasanids was of course a less pre- 
dictable outcome — they did not have to set about so single-minded a 
restoration of what they believed the Macedonians to have overthrown. 
But if the realisation was the gift of historical contingency, the potential 
was very much the gift of the tradition itself : the project which the Sasanids 
executed in Iran could not even have been conceived in Hellas. 

If die Iranian case approaches the Judaic in its emphasis on the role of 


Whither Antiquity? 

a personal God, the Greek case approaches the Buddhist in its emphasis on 
the role of impersonal concepts. Like the Iranians, the Greeks had their 
human enemies : mythically the Trojans, historically the Persians. But the 
Trojans were too distant in time, and too assimilated to the common culture 
of a heroic elite, to qualify as a Turanian menace to the Achaean way of 
life; while the Persians were too late in time, and in effect too distant in 
space, to set the tone of the intellectual evolution of Hellenism. 11 This 
evolution was thus overwhelmingly an attempt to grapple not with human 
hostility but with cosmic nonsense. The Greeks developed a conceptual 
cosmology wherewith to put the universe and its gods in perspective, rather 
than a theist myth wherewith to involve themselves as participants in a 
cosmic drama. 

The implications of Zoroastrian cosmology for the nature of the com- 
munity which adhered to it are thus reversed in the Greek case. In the 
first place Greek concepts, for all their association with the Greek way of 
life, provided no viable basis for setting the Greeks apart as a chosen 
people. 12 Far from offering a plausible vehicle of ethnic identity, philo- 
sophical truths become the legitimate property of whoever is able and 
willing to accept them. Zoroastrianism was a doctrine which necessarily 
began in Iran and necessarily stayed there; the Greeks by contrast were 
happy to attribute the origins of their concepts to the Egyptians, and in 
due course proceeded to pass them on to the Romans. Greek philosophy 
did not actually become extinct in the land of its birth in the manner of 
Buddhism; 13 but it could not be used to demarcate a holy land set apart 
from the rest of the world. 

In the second place this propensity for horizontal diffusion was matched 
by an incapacity for vertical integration : just as the universal truths of 
Zoroastrian dualism were not in practice for Aneran, so the universal truths 
of Greek philosophy were not in practice for the masses. It was not that 
Greek philosophers were as indifferent as Indian Buddhists towards the 
'religion of men'. The Epicureans dismissed the beliefs of the masses as 
ignorant superstition, the Stoics legitimated them as symbols of a higher 
truth. But for one thing, if this was the spirit in which the philosophers 
approached popular religion, it hardly mattered which people they elected 
to approach: what Epicurus and Zeno did for the gods of the Greeks, 
Lucretius and Panaetius could do just as well for those of the Romans. 
And for another, when it came to taking the masses in hand, the Epicureans 
were in practice as ataractic as the Stoics were apathetic. 14 Greek philo- 
sophy was not a reformation of Greek religion, 1 5 and it had neither the will 
nor the way to make of the Greeks a nation of philosophers. In sum, where 
Zoroastrianism makes a nation, Hellenism makes a cosmopolitan cultural 


The imperial civilisations 

Just as Hellenism lacked the ideological potential of Zoroastrianism, so 
also it lacked its institutional embodiment. On the one hand, Hellenism 
had no Magi: Greek priests dispensed no national philosophy, and Greek 
philosophers were no substitute for a national priesthood. And on the 
other hand, the rather ambiguous relationship of Hellenism to politics 
provided no sanction for a national polity. Historically, Greek thought 
was intimately associated with the life of the city state. Its specific political 
focus was thus by Iranian standards too narrow: for all the aspirations of 
philosophers to kingship, the Republic is no more a charter for a national 
monarchy than the Iliad. 16 Conceptually, the elevated concern of philo- 
sophy with the cosmos implied a tendency to be above politics. Its general 
intellectual focus was thus by Iranian standards too broad : if philosophical 
contemplation is the highest good, it becomes a matter of taste whether 
one elects to philosophise in an Alexandrian library or an Athenian tub. 

The result was that Hellenistic monarchy could not be a national polity. 
The Macedonian conquests did indeed rid Greek thought of its parochial 
political obsession: politically obsolete, the city state survived primarily 
as a cultural form. But once freed from the distractions of the polis, the 
philosophers returned to the abiding problems of the universe. The citizens 
of the polis became citizens, not of Hellas, but of the cosmos; and their 
communal bond gave way, not to ethnic solidarity, but to the brotherhood 
of man. Against this background, the Macedonian kings could pose as the 
avengers of Hellenism against the Persians and act as its protectors in 
distant lands ; but these roles remained external to a tradition within which 
the Hellenistic monarchies possessed no authentic intrinsic status. There 
could be no Greek Achaemenids, and by the same token there could be no 
Greek Sasanids ; the establishment of a kingdom of Hellas had to wait on 
the nineteenth-century Bavarians. 

The Greek world was thus precluded from attaining political and 
religious integration out of its own resources. But at the same time the 
character of the tradition laid it open to the arrival of these blessings from 
abroad. In the first place, Hellenism had an abundance of adherents beyond 
its ethnic frontiers; the Greeks could thus be conquered by their own 
cultural tributaries, where the Iranians could suffer this fate only at the 
hands of their ideological enemies. 17 In the second place, Hellenism had 
few resources for the ideological control of its masses; the Greeks could 
thus be converted by the missionaries of a foreign religion, where the 
Zoroastrian hold on the people of Iran could be subverted only by con- 
quest. The result was that Iran retained its monolithic construction until the 
Hagarene conquerors destroyed its polity and religion in one, whereas the 
Greeks owed such political and religious unity as was foisted upon them to 
a Roman emperor and a Jewish God. 


Whither Antiquity? 

This double intrusion did something to knit the Greek world together, 
but it left it a long way from becoming a western Iran. Politically, there 
was the ambiguous relationship between the Greeks and the Romans. In 
principle, the Romans might have complemented their reception of Greek 
culture by adopting Greek ethnicity; in practice, they had the will and the 
means to persist in being ethnically different, and having found themselves 
a Trojan descent in Homer they proceeded to cultivate Greek philosophy 
in Latin dress. In a sense the result was to give the Greeks political integra- 
tion and the Romans cultural integration into a Graeco-Roman imperial 
civilisation. But at the same time this dual civilisation meant a dual tension. 
The Greeks, for all their possession of the tide-deeds to the culture, could 
never quite lose their political provinciality ; and the Romans, for all the 
felicity of their evolution from city state to empire, could never quite live 
down their cultural provinciality. 

Religiously, there was the ambiguous relationship between the Gracco- 
Romans and the Jews. The ancient world had called in a personal God with 
experience as the tutelary deity of a small and somewhat ill-fated people. 
The ensuing relationship was problematic in two ways. In the first place, 
the point of the invitation was that Yahweh was a personal God ; but 
placing a personal God in charge of a conceptual universe is likely to 
involve a good deal of discomfort on both sides. In the second place, 
Yahweh 's ethnic past lay outside the civilisation which had now adopted 
him. The Christians did of course sacrifice their ethnicity to convert the 
Greeks, unlike the Romans who had retained theirs and conquered them. 
But for all his denationalisation, Yahweh had brought with him an ela- 
borate scriptural record of a culturally distinctive national past. 18 

A Greek culture, a Roman polity and a Judaic faith thus combined to 
form a tripartite civilisation. Even in its Byzantine form, this tradition 
remained a historically shallow adjunction of elements of diverse origins, 
with all three components potentially in mutual tension. The unfortunate 
Italus, an eleventh-century monk and a pupil of Psellus, appeared as an 
uncouth Latin barbarian to Anna Comnena, as a dangerously heterodox 
philosopher to the church, and as a figure of fun in his 'Galilean dress' to 
the sages of antiquity in the underworld." The Byzantines were the 
heirs of Hellenism, yet in deference to their faith they did not venture 
to call themselves Hellenes; 20 Virgil and Cicero meant nothing to them, 
yet in deference to their polity they called themselves Romans. 21 In prac- 
tice, this did not matter much to the extent that Byzantium worked : when 
one is on top of the world, one can afford to be incoherent. But it had an 
important implication which less favourable circumstances might bring 
into action: what history had so loosely put together, it could just v as 
easily take apart. 




Syria, Egypt and Iraq were all seats of very ancient cultural traditions. 
None of these traditions had of course survived intact through the mil- 
lennium of foreign rule by the more upstart Achaemenids, Greeks, Romans, 
Parthians and Sasanids which preceded the Arab conquests. But equally 
the low level of cultural integration characteristic especially of the Graeco- 
Roman and Parthian empires had ensured that none of them had com- 
pletely disappeared. In the third century after Christ they were still alive; 
but in the third century likewise the old cultural permissiveness was coming 
to an end. Had the Arabs chosen to stage their conquests at this point, 
they would still have found a local and an imperial culture coexisting 
side by side — as in fact they did in North Africa; conversely, had they 
postponed their conquests until the tenth century it is conceivable (though 
not very likely) that they would have found nothing but local literati 
faithfully reproducing the imperial culture — as in fact they did in Spam. 
But since they chose to invade Egypt and the Fertile Crescent in the 
seventh century, what they actually found were three highly distinctive 
provincial syntheses, elaborated under a Christian aegis in reaction to 
metropolitan pressure on cultural deviance. 

That Hellenism and local cultures had been able to coexist more or 
less undisturbed until the third century was a result of the Hellenistic 
segregation of elite and masses, politically as citizens and subjects, 
culturally as Greeks and barbarians, cognitively as devotees of concepts 
and devotees of myth. Since the Greeks operated with either supreme 
truths of limited social diffusion or socially pervasive truths of limited 
cognitive value, the tension between conflicting norms and beliefs within 
the empire was defused: the Graeco- Roman elite was freed of the obliga- 
tion to impose its own supreme truths on the masses, while on the other 
hand it had no reason to withhold them from barbarians who were willing 
to make a cultural conversion. If those who stayed away were not pursued 
and those who came were not turned away, the former could be left to 
abide in peace by their barbarian ways while the latter could be expected 
to renounce their barbarian ways completely. So throughout the period a 
steady number of barbarians were siphoned off by Hellenism; but inasmuch 


Wbitber Antiquity? 

as the Hellenes had no interest in letting native values slip through for 
the sake of gaining a soul, few of these cultural converts betray their pro- 
vincial origins. Run politically as a confederation of city states under the 
loose supervision of the Roman emperor, intellectually as a confederation 
of philosophical schools under the loose supervision of the civic gods, 
the Roman Empire was thus like a vast net casting its thin threads over a 
modey variety of barbarians: the threads everywhere caught men to be 
polished by the same remarkably uniform culture, but the meshes were 
everywhere large enough to let the majority of the barbarians escape with 
their own unpolished languages, creeds and institutions. 

The domain of religion was of course an exception to this general pattern 
of insulation between things Greek and barbarian. If in this one respect the 
barbarians were granted to have had insights denied to the Greeks, there 
was nothing to prevent a genuine syncretic interchange; and religious 
syncretism is of course one of the most striking features of Hellenistic 
civilisation. But the moral discontinuity between elite and masses none- 
theless persisted: the Greeks saw concepts where the peasant saw ma at, 
and the native priests, on whom fell the task of preserving the unity of 
truth, lacked both the will and the way to control the social and geo- 
graphical variations of their doctrines. 1 

The developments which put an end to this situation from the third 
century onwards were twofold. In the first place, militarisation changed 
the administrative structure of the empire, depriving the mandarins of the 
Graeco-Roman world of their monopoly on both political power and cul- 
tural rectitude. 2 

Politically, the Greeks had of course lost out to the Romans with the 
Roman conquest; but an emperor masquerading as a first citizen could not 
be a figure wholly inimical to the city state, and it was only under the 
impact of the barbarian invasions that local government by city states 
gave way to direct imperial rule. The princeptpaw emerged from his dis- 
guise as dominus, and the exclusive circle of curiales gave way to the up- 
start bureaucratic officiates. With the systematic removal of the traditional 
aristocracy, the provincials got their chance to make lucrative careers as 
bureaucrats whether centrally or locally, or for that matter as emperors, 
and unsurprisingly, the provincials responded. The quondam barbarians 
thus acquired a share in the government of the empire, while the imperial 
government conversely acquired greater local ramifications. AH became 
formally citizens in A.D. 211 and substantively subjects in the course of the 
following centuries. Politically there was neither citizen nor subject, but the 
emperor was all and over all. 

Culturally, the inherent universality of Hellenistic civilisation had of 
course been demonstrated by its adoption on the part of the Romans. But 


The Near-Eastern provinces 

the city state had remained the concrete embodiment of the Greek way of 
life, and just as the Greeks could anachronistically define politics as a 
matter of Greek cities until the third century, so they could define culture 
as a matter of the Greek way of life until the demise of the city state made 
Greek thought patently available for all. Barbarians now took an education 
in grammar, rhetoric or law with a view to an administrative career in the 
manner of Eutropius, 3 or they studied Greek wisdom to acquire religious 
insights after the fashion of Porphyry; 4 and the mandarins having lost 
both power and way of life, the syncretic terms of trade began to change. 
Culturally, there was neither Greek nor barbarian, but education was all 
and for all. 

In the second place, Christianity changed the cognitive structure of the 
empire, depriving the mandarins of their monopoly on truth. Hie Christian 
God inherited two key characteristics from his ethnic past which dis- 
tinguished him from other divinities popular at the time. On the one hand 
his jealousy tolerated neither cognitive nor social limitations, and the 
Christian missionaries therefore preached substantively the same truth to 
elite and masses. It is true of course that the Christians acquired something 
of the Hellenic contempt for barbarians and idiotai; but they nonetheless 
remained fishers of men with no intention of letting the lesser fry slip 
through, and in a Christian context the dismissiveness of the Greeks became 
a patronising concern for the needs of simpler souls. On the other hand 
Yahweh's solidarity required some form of ethnic limitation, and having 
lost his tribes to become the God of the gentiles, he not unnaturally tended 
to adopt in their place the polity into which he had been launched. 5 The 
meeting of his jealousy with Greek philosophy thus issued in a conceptually 
articulated orthodoxy equally binding on devotees of hypostases and 
devotees of saints; while the meeting of his solidarity with the Roman 
Empire generated an ecclesiastical organisation through which this doc- 
trinal orthodoxy could be rendered socially effective. 6 Cognitively there 
were neither philosophers nor idiotai, but Christ was all and in all. 7 

The evolution in Iran, though infinitely less well-known, was not dis- 
similar. The loose confederation of kingdoms which constituted the Parth- 
ian Empire gave way to the centralised monarchy of the Sasanids, while 
the cultural philhellenism and religious indifference of the Parthians came 
to an end with the Sasanid restoration of an integral Zoroastrianism. 
Ahura Mazda being the God of the Aryans, the Sasanids evinced a com- 
parable concern for orthodoxy within the frontiers of the Iranian empire; 
and being in possession of a centralised monarchy, they developed a com- 
parable, if rudimentary, ecclesiastical organisation for its enforcement. 

In both empires more integration meant more solidarity — the wars of 
Crassus and Orodes gave way to the crusades of Heraclius and Khusraw 


Whither Antiquity? 

II ; and in both more integration meant more tension between the com- 
ponent parts — undisturbed provinciality gave way to conversion and 
Graeco- Roman ABC's in the west,* missionary herbads in the cast. 9 Had 
all the provincials been genuine barbarians the tension would no doubt 
have been limited : for the Carians or the Celtiberians the choice of civil- 
isation in its inevitably Greek or Roman form was hardly a difficult one. 
Equally the tribal rejection of civilisation by Blemmyes ox Berbers was 
hardly a major problem. But for the provincials of the Near East Graeco- 
Roman culture was neither the inevitable nor indeed the most desirable 
form in which civilisation could present itself on earth; and if cultural 
permissiveness had enabled them to preserve their own identity, cultural 
imperiousness now forced them to assert it actively against the metro- 
politan culture, or to restate it within it. And it was exactly because 
Christianity was at the same time the supreme truth of the metropolitan 
culture and the one truth that this culture unambiguously owed to the 
barbarians that it gave them the chance to beat the Greeks at religion 
as the Greeks had beaten them at philosophy. The same ethnic Gods 
who could be credited with the moral unity of Byzantium and Iran, could 
also be debited with the religious dissension of Egypt, Syria and Iraq. 

Before 525 B.C. the Egyptian identity was an extremely neat product of 
geography, ethnicity, language, polity and religion, all the various com- 
ponents defining precisely the same entity. Geography (or the Nile) was 
god-given and carried Egypt undivided right through the millennium as a 
Persian satrapy, Ptolemaic kingdom, Roman province and Christian 
diocese ; while the remaining components were spared complete erosion in 
the Ptolemaic period thanks to two main circumstances. 

In the first place Egypt, unlike either Syria or Babylon, had a Daylam 
in the client kingdom of Nubia, which combined the right measure of 
political intransigence and cultural dependence to step forth as the restorer 
of the Pharaonic monarchy once the Pharaohs had gone: the Thebaid 
seceded under Nubian kings from 206 to 1 86 B.C., 10 a third Nubian king 
may have provoked the Theban revolt in 16} f, 11 and at all events Thebes 
continued to vent Amon's traditional dislike of the kings in the north 
until 88 B.C.. 12 Faced with the prospect of native restoration from the 
south and Roman annexation from the north, the Ptolemies eventually 
had to go restorationist themselves: the Ptolemaic kings became Pharaohs 
with full Egyptian titulature, coronation ceremonies and capital, the 
Egyptian warrior aristocracy was revived, and the possessions and pri- 
vileges of the priesthood were restored. 13 Had the Roman conquest not 
taken place, the Ptolemies would have been in danger of absorption into 
the Egyptian polity. 


The Near-Eastern provinces 

In the second place the Greeks, though a solid population in Alexandria, 
were elsewhere pretty much dispersed over the land. 'Alexandria at 
Egypt* was of course a completely non-Egyptian city and Alexandrians, 
despite the inevitable admixture of Egyptian elements, continued to be 
identified as non-Egyptians into the Christian period; 14 but unlike the 
Seleucids the Ptolemies founded few Greek cities, and the vast majority 
of immigrants were settled on the land in the villages and metropoleis of 
the nomes where, the ban on intermarriage notwithstanding, they soon 
began to go Egyptian. 15 Had the Romans not conquered Egypt, the 
Greeks could hardly have avoided absorption into the Egyptian ethnicity. 

As it was Rome saved the Greeks. This meant the irretrievable loss 
of the Pharaonic polity : on the one hand the Ptolemaic successor kings and 
their Graeco-Egyptian aristocracy were replaced by a Roman governor 
and his Graeco- Roman staff;' 6 on the other, Graeco-Egyptian cleruchs 
were replaced by a Roman army centered outside Egypt and a new 
mercantile elite of mixed ethnic origins and Hellenistic culture inside it. 17 
Only the priests survived for a history of steady loss, not only of power and 
wealth, u but also of hope: under Marcus Aurelius they could still rebel, 19 
in the later Roman period they could only mourn for Holy Egypt. 20 It 
similarly meant the irretrievable loss of Pharaonic culture: hieroglyphic 
dictionaries of the first century after Christ herald the oblivion of the 
script by the third, 21 while the history of the Egyptian tradition as re- 
flected in the priesdy line from Petosiris and Manetho, Chaeremon and 
Ptolemy of Mendes to the Hermetic writers is one of constant etiolation. 
It was, however, crucial that the priests stayed on : if the native polity had 
survived long enough in its Ptolemaic form to leave a powerful after-image, 
they were still around to keep it alive. They might not be able to fight, 
but unlike the Syrians they had at least something to mourn. 22 It was 
similarly crucial that the Romans neither founded cities nor colonised 
the countryside; 23 if the native ethnicity had survived well enough under 
the Ptolemies to Egyptianise Greeks, it was still able to dominate the 
countryside. Culturally the Egyptians might be impoverished, but un- 
like the Syrians, at least they knew who they were. In other words, the 
native civilisation had disappeared, but the identity remained: Holy 
Kerne could not be restored, but the residue could still restore a Holy 

It was not, however, until Christianity tightened the loose relation- 
ship between Egypt, Alexandria at Egypt, and the Roman Empire of 
which both were part, that such a restoration became both urgent and 
feasible: urgent because Egypt found itself caught by the rigid doctrinal 
and organisational structures of the Hcllenised church, and whereas 
Greek Alexandria could retain both its identity and its intellectual suprem- 


Whither Antiquity? , 

acy within these structures, the Egyptian countryside was faced with mere 
absorption; and feasible because the same doctrinal and organisational 
structures with which Egypt was caught for the Graeco- Roman world 
could also be used to articulate an Egyptian identity within it. 

The first effect of Christianity was therefore to defuse the politcal 
tension between Alexandria and the Roman Empire 24 while at the same 
time exacerbating the cultural tension between Egypt and the Graeco- 
Roman world at large; and the first Egyptian reactions were both charac- 
teristic and ineffectual. On the one hand the Egyptian predilection for 
flaunting their native martyrs in the face of the outside world came to a 
head with the Meletian schism and the formation of the Church of the 
Martyrs, predominantly Coptic and Upper Egyptian in support, but 
ultimately doomed to failure. 25 On the other hand the native search for 
loopholes in the Gracco-Roman net led the Egyptians to drop out of 
civilisation altogether, rejecting spiritual and material culture alike: 26 
in Alexandria Ammonius 27 might fight for his Greek wisdom and Origen 
read it into his scriptures, but St Anthony refused to acquire it 28 and 
Diocles renounced his ; 29 likewise Alexandrians might enjoy the comforts 
of civilisation, but the ascetics rejected both man-made shelters and man- 
made food as part of the same contaminated world they were trying to 
forget. 30 Diagnosing the discontent of civilisation as a consequence of 
the Fall, they tried to recapture the innocent barbarism of Adam : as Enkidu 
had once been seduced by a temple prostitute into entering civilisation, 
so one Egyptian was seduced by a betrothed of Christ into leaving it as 
a 'naked old man who fed with the beasts'. 31 Nonetheless this second 
reaction was to have a future. 

The crucial change was the development of cenobitism. We already find 
St Anthony gathering his followers into semi-cenobitic communities; 
with Pachomius the caves gave way to large monastic settlements, the 
hermits to thousands of inmates, solitary autonomy to the rules and 
regulations of increasingly powerful abbots, and by the fifth century 
Egypt all but unanimously subscribed to the cenobitic ideal. 32 If the 
anchorites still held formal pride of place, their eremitical ideal was now 
suspected of ascetic virtuosity; solitude, excess of zeal in prayer and in 
mortification of the flesh, and the quest for martyrdom were all dis- 
couraged in favour of communal life, obedience and, above all, work. 33 
Henceforth all monks, whether members of Pachomian monasteries or of 
semi-anchorite settlements, worked so as to provide for themselves and 
the poor; 34 agriculture and various crafts were practised and the desert 
was strewn with gardens, fields, woods and orchards for the encourage- 
ment of the Christian husbandmen who believed that 'the desert was 
able to bring forth fruits for those who believe in God'. 35 If the desert of 


The Near-Eastern provinces 

Egypt built the Church of the Gentiles, 36 the Church of the Gentiles con- 
versely built Holy Egypt in the desert. With this development the sharp 
dividing line between holiness and the world characteristically dis- 
appeared : the monk was of course able to devote his entire life to God, 
but the virtuous labourer in the world might still equal or exceed the 
monk in holiness; 37 all worked in their various ways for the same ideal, 
but the monasteries represented, so to speak, the kibbutzim. 

As a result Christian Egypt came to have two distinct and potentially 
rival components: on the one hand Alexandria, the seat of the patriarch 
who ruled his compact diocese with all the organisational and intellectual 
resources of the Hellenised church; 38 and on the other the desert, the seat 
of the monks who ruled the same diocese with all the emotional resources 
of the Egyptian peasantry. What this rivalry could have done had it 
come into the open history does not relate inasmuch as it was suppressed 
by mutual interests. Without the support of Alexandria the monks could 
not acquire, let alone impose, a myth to give articulation to their own 
provincial identity : that was the lesson the monks had to draw from the 
Meletian failure. 39 But equally, without the support of the monks 
Alexandria could not control the diocese, let alone impose its own concepts 
on the Graeco- Roman world: that was the lesson Athanasius drew from 
the Meletian threat. 40 Consequently there was an alliance: the patriarchs 
received monastic support in their efforts to maintain Alexandrian intel- 
lectual preeminance, the monks received patriarchal support in their 
efforts to find an Egyptian faith: 41 Dioscorus defended Cyril's Mono- 
physite creed with an army of ill-behaved monks at the Robber Council 
of Ephesus in 449, 42 and the Monophysite patriarch in return became the 
Pharaonic leader of the Copts. 43 

It was this holy, or unholy, alliance between a Greek patriarchate and 
an Egyptian peasantry which made the Coptic church, and from it follow 
its three main characteristics. In the first place the social keynote of the 
Coptic church is village rusticity rather than urban elitism. Egypt did, of 
course, have an aristocracy thanks to the third-century administrative 
reforms. These reforms, though here as elsewhere they involved a shift 
of power, had worked rather specially in Egypt: Egypt having always 
been a highly centralised province, the shift was not from a citizen elite 
to provincial bureaucrats, but from Greek bureaucrats to a provincial 
elite. 44 In this way the Hellenised elite of the metropoleis and villages, 
which Rome had seen it as in her interest to protect, came to supply most of 
the governors outside Alexandria by the fifth century 45 and developed into 
a class of local magnates who all but owned and controlled the entire 
province by the sixth. 46 But despite the admixture of Egyptians, this 
ethnically mixed and culturally Greek aristocracy could hardly claim to 


Whither Antiquity? 

represent Holy Egypt; so in contrast to Assyria it was not they but the 
peasants who shaped the local church. But equally, despite their Greek 
culture, the land they controlled had been sanctified by the Coptic church; 
so in contrast to Syria they were not rejected out of hand. The bleak choice 
between a Monophysite renunciation of power and a Melkitc retention 
of it was not of course unknown in Egypt, 47 but it was not a very common 
one. The massive wealth and power of the Apions 48 thus in no way made 
them morally Greeks : styling themselves natives of Egypt and holding 
high local and central office, they contrived to retain their Monophysite 
creed vis-a-vis the emperor despite a moment of weakness, 4 ' and to 
redeem their worldly status vis-a-vis the Copts by lavish charity and 
support. 50 "The fruits of my trafficking are for the relief of the righteous', 
as a merchant told Paphnutius; 51 the motto was one with which not only 
the Apions, but propertied Egyptians in general, might have sanctified their 
worldly status. 52 And if the aristocracy which Egypt legitimised as its 
own was not Pharaonic, it might in time have passed itself off as Ptole- 

In the second place, the emotional keynote of the Coptic church is 
ethnic and linguistic chauvinism: the honour of Egypt invoked in the 
Coptic account of Cambyses' invasion 53 reappears as the ethnic solidar- 
ity of Monophysite monks against Heradius' persecution of the Copts, 54 
the linguistic pride of Coptic Christians in resistance to the inroads of 
Arabic, 55 and the glory of Egypt in the panegyrics of Egyptian saints. 56 
The gods will return to heaven and widowed of its gods Egypt, this most 
holy land, will die — thus the dirge of the pagan priest; 57 'Rejoice and be 
glad, O Egypt, and her sons and all her borders, for there hath come to 
thee the Lover of Man' — thus the answer of the Coptic church. 58 

In the third place, the intellectual keynote of the Coptic church was 
not Alexandrian philosophy but peasant boorishness : Cyril was the last 
Alexandrian theologian of note, John Philoponus the last philosopher, and 
the surviving Coptic literature is as intellectually dull as it is emotionally 
vibrant. The insulation of Egypt from Alexandria which had ensured an 
impressive survival of the Egyptian identity was at the same time an 
isolation of the Egyptian heritage from Greek thought which secured only 
a scant survival of Egyptian truth ; so that despite a certain continuity in 
the history of Egyptian magic, the contribution of this heritage to the 
culture of Coptic Egypt was limited to a few popular motifs. 59 Had Alex- 
andria had less of a monopoly on intellectual activity in pagan Egypt, had 
the Helleniscd priests been evenly represented all over the province, or had 
the province had a sophisticated urban elite of native origin, pagan Egypt 
might have accepted Greek thought as morally native; instead Christian 
Egypt rejected the pagan heritage as morally Greek. 60 Coptic Egypt 


The Near-Eastern provinces 

produced practical men in the style of Pachomius or Shenute, but no 
thinkers, and compared with Syria or Iraq it had only rudimentary 
monastic learning. 

This is not to say that without the Arab conquests Egypt would have 
seceded from the Byzantine Empire either politically or culturally. It is 
true of course that the emperor was a figure extrinsic to Holy Egypt, and 
that the Egyptians insisted on dating from Diocletian's persecution, not 
Constantine's conversion;* 1 but a Pharaoh with only ecclesiastical power, 
an aristocracy with only Graeco- Roman culture, and temples represented 
only in the desert were not the components of a viably autonomous polity ; 
and the kibbutzniks in the desert had no illusions as to their need of an 
emperor in Constantinople to keep the barbarians off. Equally Coptic 
boorishness was hardly capable of providing the basis of a viably auto- 
nomous culture. The characteristics of the Coptic church nevertheless 
provided the components of a highly distinctive provinciality : an Egypt 
distinguished from the rest of the world by its peculiar sanctity yet linked 
to it as an example for mankind — in other words, an Egypt on the model 
enunciated by the late pagan priests; 62 or again, an Egypt distinguished 
from the rest of the world by its peculiar ethnicity and semi-native aris- 
tocracy yet linked to it as a member of a Graeco- Roman empire — in other 
words, an Egypt on the model reversed in the late Ottoman period. 63 

Unlike Egypt, Iraq accommodated not one but two provincial identities, 
the Assyrian and the Babylonian. Both cultures had of course suffered 
violent destruction on their fall a thousand years before the Arab conquests : 
as Nabopolassar and the Medes turned Assyria into 'heaps and ruins' in 
61 2 B.C., 64 so Xerxes razed the walls of Babylon, expropriated its citizens 
and turned its god into bullion after the revolt of 48 2. 65 Both identities 
nonetheless survived, the first under a Christian aegis, the second under a 

This unusual division of labour between Christianity and paganism was 
a result of the differing impact of foreign rule on the two provinces. 
Assyria, which had neither the fabled wealth nor the strategic importance 
of; Babylon, had been left virtually alone by the Achaemenids and 
Seleucids; 66 condemned to oblivion by the outside world, it could re- 
collect its own glorious past in a certain tranquillity. 61 Consequently 
when the region came back into the focus of history under the Parthians, 
it was with an Assyrian, not a Persian let alone Greek, self-identification: 
die temple of Ashur was restored, the city was rebuilt, 68 and an Assyrian 
successor state returned in the shape of the client kingdom of Adiabene. 69 
The Sasanids put an end to the autonomy of this kingdom, 70 but they 
did 'not replace the local rulers with a Persian bureaucracy : though reduced 


Whither Antiquity? 

to obedient servants of the Shahanshah, a native aristocracy therefore 
survived. 71 In one respect, however, their position in the Persian state 
was an uncomfortable one. Already under the Parthians the Shahanshahs 
tended to demand religious conformity in return for political significance ; 72 
and under the Sasanids they did so systematically, thus imposing a Persian 
truth on an Assyrian identity. As long as the level of integration remained 
low this disharmony could be disguised by syncretic manoeuvres; 73 but as 
the Sasanids brought the local aristocracy into closer contact with the 
Persian court, the meshes were closed. 74 A Persian monarchy thus did for 
an ethnic God in the east what an ethnic God did for Greek culture in the 
west, and here as elsewhere the provincials were faced with the choice 
between the rectification of genealogy and the rectification of faith, 
tafbib al-nasab and tajhih al-din. Like the provincials of the west, the 
Assyrians stuck to their genealogy, but unlike them they could not merely 
go heretical: even a heretical Zoroastrian was still conceptually a Persian, 
and vis-a-vis the Persians the Assyrians therefore needed a different 
religion altogether. 75 On the other hand, even an orthodox Christian 
was still only a Greek by association ; vis-a-vis the Greeks a heresy there- 
fore sufficed. Consequendy, after a detour via Judaism, the Assyrians 
adopted Christianity and found their heresy in Nestorianism. 7 * 

Babylonia, by contrast, had never been left alone. Apart from its 
massive Jewish diaspora, it was flooded with Persian immigrants under 
the Achaemenids, Greeks under the Seleucids and more Persians with the 
Sasanids ; the latter built their capital there and in due course added yet 
another batch of foreigners in the form of Greek and Syrian prisoners of 
war. 77 As a result the Babylonian polity was dissolved. It is true that the 
ghost of Babylon haunted lower Iraq for some two centuries in the shape 
of the client kingdom of Mesene which, though founded by an Iranian 
satrap, soon went Aramaic; 78 and there were no doubt other Aramean 
kings under the Parthians. 79 But in the first place the Babylonian identi- 
fication of Mesene was weak, 80 and in the second place the Sasanid choice 
of lower Iraq as the centre of their empire hardly left much room for a 
native aristocracy, and whereas the Assyrians had a clear memory of their 
own past, the Babylonians did not. 81 One might indeed have expected the 
Babylonian identity to vanish altogether, and if it did survive it was not 
because it remembered itself in isolation, but because it transcended itself 
and won universal respect: the Greeks bowed in deference to Babylonian 
astrology and borrowed it without disguising its Chaldean origin, 82 and 
consequendy the Chaldeans could borrow Greek philosophy without losing 
their identity. The fusion of Greek and Babylonian paganism generated a 
variety of astrological religions which, unlike the parent paganism, could 
hold their own against the supreme truths of Zoroastrianism, and which 


The Near-Eastern provinces 

unlike Christianity were possessed of an ethnic label: an Assyrian had 
only an identity, a Christian had only a truth, but a Chaldean had both 
identity and truth. In Chaldea pagans therefore survived. 

Christianity did, of course, spread to Babylonia; but whereas in As- 
syria it was a way of sanctifying a provincial identity, in Babylonia it was 
a way of desanctifying two. To the highly cosmopolitan environment of 
lower Iraq, Christianity, like Manichaeism, was a protest against ethnic 
religions, not a way of acquiring one: Manichaeism transcended the 
Chaldean and Persian truths by combining them as lesser insights within 
a larger and more grandiose scheme of things, and Christianity did the 
same by rejecting both as identical. The Christians of lower Iraq never 
lacked identity: they included Persians, Greeks, Elamites, Arameans, 
Qatraye, Arabs and others. 83 Like the Assyrians, they might call them- 
selves Suryane in contradistinction to the pagans ; but they never shared any 
single identity between them: the only identity there was to inherit was 
Chaldean, and on conversion the Chaldean renounced his ethnicity as 
Magian and his culture as Zoroastrian. 84 The Assyrian Christians have a 
genuine precedent for their name, but Christians were only called Chal- 
deans by way of abuse. 85 

There were thus two distinct versions of Christianity within the 
Nestorian church : on the one hand the local church of Assyria, a chauvinist 
assertion of a provincial identity; and on the other the metropolitan church 
of Persia with its centre in Babylonia, a cosmopolitan assertion of a 
gentile truth. But if the Assyrian church was in this respect comparable to 
that of Egypt, its chauvinism took a rather different from. Egypt had pre- 
served an ethnicity and a language peculiar to itself among its peasantry, 
whereas its aristocracy belonged to the larger Hellenised world ; Assyria 
by contrast had an aristocracy peculiar to itself, whereas it shared its 
ethnicity and language with the larger Aramaic world. Hence where 
Coptic chauvinism was ethnic and linguistic, that of Assyria turned on 
the memory of a glorious past. In this connection two timely conversions 
served to clear the Assyrian kings of their Biblical disrepute. Firsdy 
Sardana the son of Sennacherib, thirty-second king of Assyria after Belos 
and ruler of a third of the inhabited world, submitted to the monotheistic 
message of Jonah and instituted the Ninivite fast which saved Ninive from 
destruction; 86 and the fast having saved the Assyrians from the wrath of 
God in the past, it was reinstituted by Sabrisho' of Karkha de-Bet Selokh 
to save them from a plague a thousand years later. 81 Secondly, the con- 
version of Izates II of Adiabene to Judaism was reedited as the conversion 
of Narsai of Assyria to Christianity. 88 In other words the Assyrians were 
monotheists before Christ and Christians after him, and the past therefore 
led on to the present without a break. Thus the history of Karkha de-Bet 


Whither Antiquity? 

Selokh begins with the Assyrian kings and ends with the Assyrian martyrs : 
Sargon founded it" and the martyrs made it 'a blessed field for Christ- 
ianity'. 90 Likewise in the seventh century before Christ all the world stood; 
in awe of Sardana," and in the seventh century after Christ the saints 
took his place as the 'sun of Athor' and the 'glory of Ninive'. 92 

The church in Babylonia, by contrast, had neither the ethnic and 
linguistic pride of Egypt nor the historical pride of Assyria. As against 
Egypt, they identified themselves as gentiles 93 and used both Persian and 
Syriac. 94 As against Assyria, they renounced the Babylonian past to the 
pagans: Nimrod, in Assyria an ancestral king commemorated in the names 
of Christian saints, 95 in Babylonia retained his identification with Zoro- 
aster 96 and was either rejected as the originator of Persian paganism 97 or 
conciliated as the oracular guide of the Magians in search of Christ; 9 * 
in either case he remained a foreigner. Likewise the tradition represented 
by the Christian Isho'dad of Merv is as totally detached from the Baby- 
lonian past, for all its considerable learning, as that represented by the 
pagan Ibn Wabshiyya is totally in love with it, for all its considerable 

Both the Assyrian and the Babylonian churches, however, differed 
from that of Egypt in being aristocratically orientated ; the first because 
its Assyrian identity was vested in a native aristocracy, the second because 
the disinvestment from a native identity permitted a full acceptance of 
Persian aristocratic values. Consequendy the Nestorian church as such was 
constituted by its nobles : the endless succession of peasants in the sayings 
of the Egyptian fathers gives way to the endless succession of magnates in 
the acts of the Persian martyrs, and whereas the Egyptian magnates could 
only just redeem their wordly status by going Monophysitc, the Nestorian 
sources virtually brim over with aristocratic legitimism. 99 The awe of 
Assyria for its local Nimrodids or Sennacheribids is matched by the metro- 
politan reverence for the royal descent of a Saba, Yuhannan or Golin- 
dukht, 100 and the Nestorians were thus united in their high esteem of 
power, wealth and wordly renown, 101 It is true that from time to time the 
intolerance of the Shahanshahs precluded service at court; 102 but local 
magnates could and did stay in power, laymen played a prominent role 
in the Nestorian church, and tolerant Shahanshahs received the willing 
services of their Christian subjects: 103 of all laymen it was Yazdin of 
Kirkuk, the fiscal officer in charge of taxes, tribute and booty for 
Khusraw II, who was honoured as the 'defender of the church in the 
manner of Constantine and Theodosius'. 104 Consequendy the Nestorians 
were similarly united in their attitude to the Persian king: all had accepted 
the political supremacy of the Persian Empire, and even the Assyrians could 
hardly hope for a Sennacheribid restoration; what they resented was the 


The Near-Eastern provinces 

ethnic intolerance of Zoroastrianism, and what they aimed at was there- 
fore not secession from the rule of the Shahanshah, but his conversion. 105 

As members of an aristocratic church the Nestorians likewise differed 
from the Copts in having a rich secular culture : their high esteem for wordly 
power was matched by their high esteem for human reason, a point en- 
dorsed by Nestorian theology. Their official authority, Theodore of 
Mopsuestia, did of course know the traditional doctrine of the Fall, 
according to which an initial state of human immortality and bliss had been 
disrupted by sin and deteriorated progressively until the dramatic return 
of grace with the redemptive death of Christ. But he also taught a variant 
doctrine positing an initial state of imperfection from which man had 
progressed under divine guidance until immortality was regained with the 
exemplary resurrection of Christ. 106 One doctrine emphasised man's need 
of grace, the other his ability to help himself: if the divine instruction was 
to be of any effect man must necessarily be able to distinguish between 
good and evil and to act in accordance with his reason, and sin must 
therefore be an act of will and an act against better knowledge. 107 It 
was for this second view that the Nestorians opted, and if they did not go 
Pelagian 10 * or reduce the redemption to a mere symbol of future im- 
mortality, 109 they certainly did play up reason at the expense of grace. 110 

The possession of a secure social and doctrinal locus for secular intel- 
lection did two things for Nestorian culture. In the first place, whereas the 
Coptic church was boorish, the Nestorian church was academic. Most 
strikingly, it acquired one of the few non-monastic schools of theology in 
the Near East when the school of Edessa migrated to Nisibis, 111 and 
Nisibis in turn spawned a series of lesser schools ; and it similarly acquired 
a school of medicine with the settlement of prisoners of war in Gondesha- 
pur. 112 In general the foundation of schools recurs again and again in the 
lives of Nestorian worthies, and few monasteries were without one. 113 
. In the second place, whereas the Coptic church rejected Greek thought 
as morally pagan, the Nestorian church legitimised it as proleptically 
Christian. For it was not of course an Assyrian culture that was being 
taught in the Assyrian schools: the cultural impoverishment of Assyria 
had been hardly less thoroughgoing than that of Egypt, and just as the 
Egyptian heritage in Coptic literature is limited to motifs of popular 
stories, so the Assyrian heritage in Christian literature is limited to Ahiqar, 
;the vizier of the Assyrian kings. 114 But unlike the Coptic peasants, the 
'< Nestorian elite could replace what it had lost with the universal truths 
of;Greek philosophy. The philosophers were not only translated but also 
j|xalted, 115 and in due course the Nestorians became adept enough at 
philosophy to export it back to the west. 11 * 

\i . At the same time the fate of asceticism among the Nestorians was cor- 

I 59 

Whither Antiquity? 

respondingly different from what it was among the Monophysites. Meso- 
potamia Christianity had begun as an ascetic movement on the Syrian 
pattern, with the congregational church consisting of Nazirite 'sons of the 
Covenant'." 7 But just as the Copts had found that they could rebuild 
Holy Egypt in the desert, so the Assyrians found that they could recreate 
an image of their polity around their aristocracy. It is not therefore sur- 
prising that, with the adoption of Nestorianism, asceticism was virtually 
eradicated: the 'sons of the Covenant' disappeared in all but name, 118 
the celibacy of the clergy was abolished, 119 and monasticism dis- 
couraged. 120 Equally when asceticism finally returned to stay, it was in a 
new and different shape. As in Egypt, cenobitism had been organised on a 
Pachomian pattern; yet in contrast to Egypt the cenobites represented 
merely a preparatory stage in the spiritual career. As in Syria, it was the 
anchorites who held pride of place; yet in contrast to Syria their raison 
d'etre was Evagrian. 121 Iraq thus had no kibbutzim: the Nestorians were 
not averse to inhabiting the desert, but they did so for the solitude it 
afforded, not to grow roses in the sand. But equally, Iraq had no pillar 
saints : the Nestorians were not averse to mortifying the flesh, but they did 
so less to punish it for its sins than to spare themselves the cumberous 
ministration to its needs for which they had neither time nor thought in 
their pursuit of the mystic vision of God. 122 

As against Egypt and Assyria the fragmented province of Syria never 
possessed any one or any two identities, and consisted instead of a whole 
plethora of tiny political, ethnic and religious units. In Egypt nobody re- 
membered the days when each nome had a king, and Pharoanic titulature 
only just recalled that the country had once been two kingdoms; in Syria 
by contrast everybody knew that before the days of Augustus every city, 
or indeed every village, had its own king. 123 Likewise Egypt had its one 
and unique ethnicity, but Syria was divided up between Phoenicians, 
Arameans, Jews, Canaanites, Arabs and so forth ; and whereas Egypt had 
its one and unique religion, in Syria the diversity of local kings was matched 
by a diversity of local baalim. 

The impact of foreign conquest on this variety of small-scale identities 
was correspondingly destructive. On the one hand there was no Syrian 
Pharoah for the Nabateans or Zenobia to restore, or for the Seleucids and 
the Romans to inherit; and the philhellenism of the first pair is matched 
by the failure of the second to perpetuate any indigenous political struc- 
tures. 124 And on the other hand the conquerors could not leave the 
countryside alone. Unlike the Ptolemies who could rule Egypt with an 
Alexandria against Memphis and a Ptolemais against Thebes, the Seleucids 
had to build a city for every city king; and where the native ethnicity of 


The Near-Eastern provinces 

Egypt could threaten to absorb the Greeks, the native ethnicities of Syria 
could only lose their individualities to merge as Aramean in contradistinc- 
tion to the Greeks. Here as there, of course, the priests survived. But given 
the fragmented character of the traditions they represented, and their full 
exposure to Hellenism, their ability to conserve the native identity was 
necessarily a very limited one. Culturally, there was no Syrian Manetho or 
Berossus : Philo of Byblos, who recorded the Phoenician tradition, was not 
a native priest but an antiquarian with a Hellenistic love of Oriental 
arcana ; 1 25 while Heliodorus, who may have been a priest of Emessa, wrote 
as a novelist with a Hellenistic love of Oriental mirabilia. 126 Politically, 
the Syrian priests had nothing to fight for and nothing to mourn : Uranius 
Antoninus who warded off the Persians with local Emessans was no 
Isidorus fighting the Romans with local boukploi, 121 while the ambitions 
of a Julia Domna were to make Roman emperors, not Syrian kings, just as 
her nostalgia was for Greek paganism in general, not the rites of Holy 
Emessa in particular. 128 

Consequendy the native polities disappeared not only materially, 
but also morally : just as a Eunus enthused by the Dea Syra to fight for his 
personal freedom in early Roman Sicily could only proclaim himself a 
Hellenistic king, 129 so a Theodoretus inspired by his Christianity to defend 
his cultural autonomy in late Roman Syria could use the Phoenician kings 
only to claim prior possession of a Jewish truth. 1 30 Only Edessa, which had 
kept up a precarious independence on the Assyrian pattern until A.D. 216, 
kept the memory of its local kings; 131 but whereas Adiabene was an As- 
syrian successor state, Osrhoene was no etiolated kingdom of Mitanni. 132 
And without a past, who were the Aramean inhabitants of a Greek city 
ruled by an Arab dynasty between Persia and Rome? 133 The city kings 
necessarily disappeared from both the earth and the memories of men, and 
with them the identities which had been vested in them. The Roman 
province of Egypt was still Kerne, Keme having survived the foreign 
conquest ; but Phoenicia was merely a Roman province, Syria being the 
product of foreign conquest. 134 

Similarly, the native cultures were submerged. Whereas in Egypt 
Greek intellectual activities were overwhelmingly concentrated in Alex- 
andria, Syria had many such centres. The Hellenising priests and an urban 
elite were found all over the land, and pagan Syria thus accepted Greek 
culture as morally native: Julian sacrificed at the hands of a Syrian priest, 
and the Syrian priest sent his son to a Greek school; 135 the emperors re- 
warded Syrian provincials with local office, and the Syrian provincials took 
a Graeco- Roman education. 136 It is therefore not surprising that Syria 
should have produced a string of Hellenising literati to which Egypt 
offered no quantitative or qualitative parallel: Poseidonius of Apamea 


W hither Antiquity? 

may have been a Greek by descent, but Porphyry and Iamblichus were 
certainly Syrians; Ammianus Marcellinus from Antioch who wrote in 
Latin was presumably a Greek, but Lucian of Samosata was certainly a 
Syrian writing in Greek; and so forth. 

In these circumstances the cognitive structure of Hellenism could not, 
as in Egypt, reduce to leaving the natives to stew in their own super- 
stitions. The obverse of cultural tolerance is cultural pluralism, and if the 
Egyptians found that their cultural market stagnated in isolation from 
the Hellenistic capital, the Syrians in return found theirs flooded by rival 
truths from the nearby cities. Cultural pluralism is of course always a 
destructive phenomenon, and nobody in late antiquity came through it 
entirely unscathed. But if the Syrians had possessed an identity solidly 
anchored in one polity, ethnicity, past or ethnic god, or in all four in the 
manner of the Jews, they would hardly have had such a disproportionate 
share in the Graeco-Roman age of anxiety. The Greeks and Romans 
themselves, having invented the civilisation, came through without undue 
alienation from it; 137 while the Jews, having their unique identity, could 
reject the civilisation without placing undue strain on their own tradi- 
tion. 138 The Egyptians likewise knew who they were, even if their truths 
began to totter; 139 and if the universe began to seem uncertain, they had 
at least a time-honoured technique for making it work in magic — a native 
art of great antiquity in Egypt which elsewhere was merely another avenue 
in the general scramble for certainty and truth. 140 Conversely, the truths 
of the Harranians could not totter, even if they may have had doubts as 
to who they were: as provincials of Babylon they possessed an astrological 
religion entirely above the vicissitudes of the sublunar world. 141 

But the general run of Syrians were less fortunate. If they got more 
than their share of anxiety, it was because they were unique in having 
totally lost their native identities and truths to a culture which totally 
abdicated the responsibility of replacing them. They were thus uniquely 
deprived of axioms with which to evaluate and integrate the foreign goods 
they were offered. On the one hand they could take nothing for granted: 
they had not only been widowed of their native gods, but had also for- 
gotten what the gods used to say. And on the other hand, there was no one 
set of gods to replace them, but rather a disconcerting profusion of dif- 
ferent gods with different laws for different men. 142 Without certainties 
they could not reject and synthesise, and without rejection or syncretism 
they could not keep their universe in order; and truth no longer being 
one, they contracted relativism, the disease of a cultural Babel in which 
the ancestral language of supreme truth has given way to innumerable 
dialects of purely local currency. 143 The loss of an axiomatic reality meant 
the loss of the ability to make sense of those problems which are peren- 


The Near-Eastern provinces 

nially threatening to engulf the human universe of meaningful order — 
sickness, evil, madness and death; and as the world was denuded of 
common-sense meaning, it was repopulated instead with nightmarish 
demons. The Syrians were not, of course, unique in being haunted by 
demons; demonic intervention was the usual fashion in which a dis- 
integrating universe communicated its state of disorder to mankind in late 
antiquity. 144 But they were certainly unique in the rate and force with 
which these demonic communications hit them. Just as it was they who, 
on eating of too many trees of knowledge, had suffered the most disastrous 
cognitive fall, so it was they who were plagued with the most obsessive and 
ghoulish intruders from worlds unknown. Outside Syria these intrusions 
tended to represent circumscribed enclaves of meaninglessness, sin and 
evil in a world which could still be brought to make sense; 145 but in Syria 
they tended to pervade the world, defiling man and matter with an evil 
which surpassed human imagination. 146 

With Christianity, order and meaning returned : truth was once more one, 
and once more knew both the identities of the fearful intruders and the 
manner in which they were to be handled. As ascetics the Syrians received 
their weapons to fight off the evil offspring of cultural promiscuity, 
and as ascetics the Syrians entered the church : the 'Sons of the Covenant' 
who formed the early Syrian church were narqrs, celibates abstaining 
from wine and meat in the old nazirite tradition. 147 With the Christian 
nazirite grace returned to a fallen world: only naziritcs were worthy to 
receive baptism and the eucharist; 148 all others were mere catechumens. 
. But if grace did something to offset the effects of the Fall, Paradise 
was still not regained. On the one hand, the Syrians did not on discovering 
'their new truth rediscover their old identity: the Arameans of Syria were 
still no Phoenicians. And on the other hand, their new truth did not con- 
ifer on them a new ethnicity: the Arameans of Syria were still no Jews. 
In theory, of course, they might have remained Arameans in the manner of 
thetNestorians; 149 but in practice they could not. Having lost their 
peculiar treasures, the Syrians could associate the Aramean identity only 
with the Greek paganism which had caused the loss. 150 The ability of the 
pagan Harranians to retain the identity is thus the obverse of its renuncia- 
tion by the Christian Syrians: by virtue of the identification of Arameans 
with Hellenes and pagans, 151 the Harranians acquired a tnilla exactly 
; as had the Chaldeans, that is to say a native identity fused with an 
ledectic paganism and a religious community to be restored one day as a 
polity; 152 whereas the Syrians, by virtue of the identification of Suryane 
with Christians, renounced their pagan ethnicity for a gentile Christianity 
and a heavenly Jerusalem to be regained only at the end of times. 
1 The Syrians were, in other words, the double victims of a corrosive 

Wbitber Antiquity? 

pluralism and a gentile monotheism. As Sutyane, they were classified with 
the Assyrians who had unseated their culture in the past, a misnomer they 
owed to the Greeks who continued to unseat it in the present. 153 As 
Christians, they were distinct from the Arameans who preserved what 
native tradition the conquerors had left. As Sutyane they were provincials, 
and as Sutyane they were also cut off from their province. Christianity 
could tell them who they were vis-a-vis God and the Devil, but it could 
not tell them who they were in this world. And as the meshes of Graeco- 
Roman civilisation closed on them, it was exactly who they were vis-a-vis 
the Greeks that came to matter. 

Inasmuch as their Syrian identity was empty, one might have expected 
them to react by becoming Greeks — whether playing down their pro- 
vincial origin to merge with the metropolitan world in the manner of the 
ancient Carians, or playing it up to retain a certain distinctiveness within 
it in the manner of the modern Pontines. If Alexander had stolen their 
identity, they might in return steal his to pass themselves off as Suro- 
maqedones, 1 ** Aramaicised descendants of his Macedonian settlers — a 
genealogical readjustment for which the local Alexander romance would 
have provided a suitable vehicle of publication. 

Nevertheless they didn't. The Syromacedonians were left to die with- 
out descendants, and the local Alexander romance is accordingly eschato- 
logical. 155 The reason for this apparent lack of imagination is obvious 
enough : that same lack of any overarching integration of truth and identity 
which had enabled the Assyrians to adopt Graeco-Roman Christianity 
without going Greek had here the effect of depriving a Greek genealogy 
of its attraction for the Syrians. Plato and Augustus might both possess 
a certain instrumental legitimacy as having contributed to the spread of 
Christianity in one way or another, but they could not become inherently 
Christian: if Plato was but a Moses speaking Attic, 156 Jesus was still no 
Greek; and if Augustus united the World for the coming of Christ, 1 5 7 he 
was still no Jew. It was only when they all fell victim to the same Arab 
conquest that they began to look like so many chips off the same old block 
of truth: for the Christians of the tenth-century Jazira, as not for those of 
sixth-century Mesopotamia, Rum! descent was to prove a real attraction. 158 

Nor could the Syrians simply remain Syrians while adopting Hellen- 
istic culture in the manner of the Romans : nationalisation, whether of oil 
or culture, requires a nation, and where the Romans had an up-and-coming 
nation in need of a civilisation, the Syrians had a dying civilisation in need 
of a nation. 159 So against the early Roman adoption of an anti-Greek 
genealogy from Homer, 160 we have the late Syriac transcription of a 
Greek genealogical misnomer; against the Roman ability to emulate the 
Homeric epic, we have the Syrian inability to do more than translate it 


The Near-Eastern provinces 

for an Arab caliph; 161 against Republican Rome in which Cato defended 
the moral integrity of an austere national past while Scipio proceeded with 
the nationalisation of Greek culture, we have Christian Syria in which 
Severus Sebokht could only defend the cultural integrity of the non- 
Greek nations at large, while attempting to nationalise astronomy as 
Babylonian. 162 

But if they could not retain their identity and nationalise, still less 
could they simply reject Greek culture and go barbarian — the line taken 
explicitly or implicitly by the adversus Graecos writers from Tatian 163 to 
Theodoretus. 164 It is true, of course, that initially it had its rewards : Jesus 
was no Greek and the martyrs who received their crown by Graeco- Roman 
iniquity were very much the peculiar treasure of the barbarians. 165 But it 
was obviously a line without a future: in time the Hellenes adopted the 
barbarian truth, and in itself this truth neither provided an ethnicity nor 
sanctioned one. The Christian past was Jewish and therefore inacces- 
sible, 166 the Christian present was gentile and therefore culturally in- 
discriminate. For those who had an identity, this offered a convenient 
escape from cultural alienation: a heavenly Jerusalem was, thank God, no 
serious rival to an earthly Rome or Athens. But for those who were in 
need of one, it meant that the Christian exile on earth became temfyingly 
concrete: if the Jews had the Jahiliyya and heaven the Jerusalem, there 
was nothing left for the Syrians but to prepare and wait for death. 

Meanwhile, of course, one might attempt to circumvent the problem 
by insisting on the fundamental irrelevance of genealogy: Greeks are 
no better than barbarians, for all descend from Adam ; 1 67 Attic is no better 
than other languages, for they all say the same; 168 Hellenism is no better 
than other cultures, for they were all equally inventive. 169 If all men were 
of Adam and Adam was of dust, there was no reason why the Greeks 
should monopolise Greek culture ; 1 70 but equally, if Greek culture belonged 
to all men, there was nothing to make it specifically Syrian. 171 And so the 
problem remained: going Greek was no solution; nationalise Greek cul- 
ture they could not because they lacked a nation — they had only spiritual 
ancestors ; and reject it they could not because they lacked an alternative — 
they had only a spiritual culture. 

The dilemma of the Syrians was thus analogous to that of their Punic 
cousins in North Africa, who had similarly managed to hang on to a 
tenuous ethnic and linguistic distinctiveness without much else: the 
Phoenicians of North Africa were no more Latins than the Syrians of 
Phoenicia were Greeks. But if they had avoided absorption so long as 
the meshes were large, they had litde left to fight with when Christianity 
reduced them to the eye of a needle ; and both were reduced to a mindless 
flight, a panicky stampede from civilisation and life as such, hurling them- 


Whither Antiquity? 

selves from rocks, throwing themselves at beasts of prey, setting fire 
to themselves, or merely wandering off to vanish in the desert, where 
later monks would find and marvel at their desiccated corpses. 172 

By the fourth century the Phoenicians of North Africa were of course 
doomed to extinction one way or the other, and against their attempted 
suicide we have St Augustine's reading of the Punic solus ('three') as an 
omen of their imminent absorption by Latin salvatio. 113 But once the 
Syrians had decided to abide by their genealogy, there was no question of 
coaxing or forcing them into absorption by Greek sotiria. Christians to 
God and provincials to the Greeks, the question could only be how they 
were to make sense of their double status. 

The answer is that they couldn't. It is quite possible to make a Christian 
virtue of a provincial identity, which is precisely what the Egyptians and 
the Assyrians did. But in a Christian culture it is not possible to make a pro- 
vincial virtue of a Christian identity, which is what the Syrians tried. The 
Syrians were children of Christianity as the Pakistanis are children of 
Islam: in both cases the religion has defined its adherents out of their 
secular matrix, Aramean or Indian; and in both cases it fails to supply an 
alternative, Christianity because it sanctifies no ethnicity, Islam because it 
sanctifies one which, Pakistani efforts notwithstanding, is too remote. Like 
Egypt and Assyria, Syria developed its own provincial Christianity, dis- 
tinguished from the rest of the Christian world by a heresy on the one hand 
and a monasticism of its own peculiar breed on the other. But Egypt had 
contents for the label, whereas Syria had to seek the contents from the 
label itself; and even heretical Christianity, Syrian efforts notwithstanding, 
does not suffice to make a man. Without an ethnicity, without a Jahiliyya, 
and without an Athens, they had nothing to be, to mourn or to love this 
side of the Garden of Eden. Having only Paradise to regain, they set 
their eyes on the reconquest of heaven — the land to which the martyrs 
had departed, not the land from which they had come. 

Essentially the Syrians remained nazirites. 174 The Hellenised concept 
of the church did of course win through: by the end of the third century 
or the beginning of the fourth' 75 the former catechumens had been ad- 
mitted to full membership, with the 'Sons of the Covenant' becoming a 
group apart, gradually brought under ecclesiastical control and assimilated 
to the cenobites on the one hand and the lower clergy on the other; 176 
thereafter the view that every Christian is an ascetic survived only among 
the Messalians and other heretics. 177 But Syria had litde use for the 
ekjtlisia ; if the church could no longer be a Covenant, it became instead 
ovewhelmingly monastic, and within its monasticism overwhelmingly 
orientated towards the solitary nazirite. 17 * Where the Copts had their 
kibbutzniks and the Nestorians their cultivated mystics, the Syrian church 


The Near-Eastern provinces 

was dominated by men who had undertaken to stay alive, but little more. 
For them the world remained in essence a Sodom and Gomorrha in which 
there could be nothing holy and to which the monk should never look back ; 
once he had decided to join himself to those lone athletes of Christ who 
did battle with themselves until they had command of the demons, 179 
the only proper role in which he could have dealings with the world he had 
left was that of the exorcist. 140 The Egyptian ideal was for monks to work, 
sleep, eat and pray together, and to work even at the expense of prayer; but 
for the Syrians the cenobites could only fall short of the ideal of using 
one's hands only for prayer, enduring hunger, thirst and vigils alone.' 81 
The Copts left one civilisation to build another in the desert, fighting then- 
Greek demons by making the desert bloom; but the Syrians climbed onto 
pillars, leaving mankind for heaven to fight the world by mortification of 
the flesh. The Copts could hope to sanctify Egypt, the Syrians only to 
sanctify themselves, to ascend to heaven by a descent into hell and wait 
for the grace of God to shine forth from the filth of their earthly clay. 182 

Nor was there much the Syrians could do with the Hellenised sacer- 
dotium. Just as it was the 'Sons of the Covenant' and the ascetics lather than 
the congregations who represented the Syrian church, so also it was the 
lay ascetics rather than the sacerdotal ministers who tended to accumulate 
and distribute the grace: miraculous powers to exorcise, cure diseases, 
raise the dead and the like proliferated outside the official channels of 
divine beneficence, and the ascetics on more than one occasion arrogated 
to themselves the right to dispense the sacraments. 183 The ascetics could 
not, of course, hope to oust the sacerdotal hierarchy; but equally, the 
bishops could not hope to stop the extra-sacerdotal flow of grace. The 
ensuing rivalry between acquired and ascribed grace accordingly issued 
in compromise at an early stage : the bishops were almost invariably chosen 
from among the ascetics, 184 and ascetics excelling in the acquisition of 
grace would tend to acquire the official status from which such powers 
were supposed to derive. 185 

Nor could the Syrians make much of the diocese. What Antioch re- 
constituted was the Roman diocese of the Orient, not a polity of yore, 18 * 
and there was thus little pressure to staff it exclusively with Syrians. 
Syrians did of course predominate, but other barbarians, be they Ethiop- 
ians, Armenians, Christians from Persia, 187 or Egyptians, 188 were in no 
way excluded. No terrestrial organisation could be a Syrian Jerusalem : 
Egypt might hallow its visible church, but Syria could hallow only 

If Syria found the Hellenised church unhelpful, the latter in return 
found Syria unwieldy. In the first place the patriarchate of Antioch was 
no monarchy: where Cyril ruled his subjects directly in the manner of 


Whither Antiquity? 

Pharaoh, John of Antioch inherited the city kings in the shape of insub- 
ordinate metropolitans. In the second place the diocese had no armies: 
where Cyril could recruit solid phalanxes of Coptic monks, John of Antioch 
could at the most have raised stylite guerrillas or appealed to barbarian 
intervention. 189 It is therefore not surprising that an alliance between a 
native monkhood and a Greek patriarchate, such as constituted the Coptic 
church in Egypt, should have failed to come through in Syria. On the one 
hand Syria failed to adopt its own heresy, despite the fact that Nestorius 
was patriarch of Constantinople and had the support of John of Antioch 
when he clashed with Cyril. 190 And on the other, when Syria finally got 
its Egyptian heresy, it did so independently of Antioch at the hands of 
Jacob Baradaeus — who was not a patriarch and prefect in the grand style 
of the Egyptian hero, but a poor and persecuted saint in the ascetic tradi- 
tion, traversing the region on foot and assisted in the last resort by an 
Arab king. 191 

Where the Coptic church was constituted by its peasants, and the 
Nestorian church by its nobles, that of Syria was thus based on its ascetics. 
This meant, of course, that Syria was in even less of a position to nourish 
hopes of political — as opposed to eschatological — secession from the 
Roman Empire : there was no alternative to hallow. True, a messianic king 
shall come forth from Baalbek, but only at the end of times when we shall 
all be dead; 192 and in the meantime one wordly polity is likely to be as 
good as another. 193 But it obviously also meant that Syria could not 
legitimise its wordly aristocracy, whether Greeks long settled in Syria 
like Urbanus, 194 or Syrians long steeped in Greek culture like the parents 
of Theodoretus. 195 Staying in power, wealth and office, as Tatian rightly 
saw, was staying in unholy madness, while withdrawing was holy common 
sense; 196 and whoever clung to the world stood condemned as a Melkite 
Greek, 197 while whoever wished to join the Monophysite Suryane must 
necessarily renounce it. 198 Only in Edessa, which had indeed been blessed 
in this world, could a Monophysite creed sanctify a secular nobility. 199 
Elsewhere they would give up their offices, sell their estates, distribute the 
proceeds to the poor and put away their families in a typically drastic act 
of conversion; the pattern was thus a radical break with a past in which 
the fruits of their trafficking could not be for the relief of the righteous, 200 
a sudden renunciation whereby even the great became worthy to despise 
the world and treat its affairs with contempt, 201 adopting a holy life as 
anchorites or wandering mendicants, begging scorn for their righteous 
souls. 202 

Equally, the ascetic basis of the Syrian church meant that Syria could 
not legitimise its wordly learning, and the extensive Hellenic flotsam 
adrift in Syriac literature could thus never quite find terra firma. This is 


The Near-Eastern provinces 

not to say that there were no Hellenising priests: in this respect Syria 
does not compare too badly with Assyria. 203 Nor is it to say that the 
ascetics were boors : Syrian monks were no Egyptian peasants. 204 But if the 
thoroughgoing Hellenisation of pagan Syria meant that there was a good 
deal of Greek learning around, 205 it also meant that the Christian recep- 
tacle was correspondingly britde: as pagans the Syrians had accepted 
Greek thought and lost their identity, as Christians pagan thought 
threatened to undermine their new and only identity. Syria accordingly 
possessed schools and monasteries in which the Greek heritage was an 
intrinsic part of the syllabus, producing churchmen skilled in a Greek 
grammar and rhetoric founded in pagan writings, who went on to translate 
the philosophers, write commentaries on Aristotle and compose scientific 
treatises; 206 but Syria also possessed schools and monasteries in which the 
Greek heritage had been removed from the syllabus, producing churchmen 
skilled in a Syriac grammar and rhetoric founded in the native scriptures, 207 
who went on to compose lives of the saints, discourses on faith and treatises 
against the poisonous wisdom of the Greeks. 20 * Thus on the one hand we 
have Theodoretus defending the philosophers as almost Christian, while 
on the other we have Ephraim attacking everything Greek as irredeemably 
pagan; 209 on the one hand Jacob of Edessa's desire to teach Greek, on 
the other the angry refusal of the monks to learn it. 210 

The uneasy coexistence — as opposed to alliance — of a Hellenised church 
with a Syrian Covenant which dominated Syrian Christianity is therefore 
also represented in the domain of epistemology : on the one hand there were 
men like Philoxenus who defended the integrity of human reason, and on 
the other men like Rabbula to whom it was radically corrupt. 2 " For 
Philoxenus, an Evagrian ascetic, nothing much was wrong with the world 
except that it was engrossed in the trivial problems of everyday life; 212 
it was the world of the many who might be justified by virtuous behaviour, 
or in other words by the law by which Jesus himself had been justified 
before his baptism; 213 only the few who had detached themselves from 
mundane preoccupations could actually reach perfection and be justified 
by divine grace. 214 For Philoxenus faith was new eyes and ears, 215 a sup- 
plement to our natural poverty of senses, 216 a fourth dimension in which 
the intellect might grasp the inaccessible reality behind the fleeting 
phenomena of the world and perceive the immovable majesty of God. 217 
Rabbula, by contrast, knew only a fallen world in which sin had vitiated 
the flesh, dimmed the intellect and eaten away the very foundations of 
human existence; 2 " and just as the law was insufficient— apart from grace 
man cannot know what constitutes a God-fearing life — so the hope of 
perceiving inaccessible realities was swept away — man's feeble intellect 
can never understand what it knows by grace. 219 One must therefore 


Whither Antiquity? 

believe, love and obey, not seek, search and inquire, 220 for by the human 
will to divine grace man can hope to live a virtuous life: one can grow 
good fruits in the sunshine, but only blind one's eyes by staring at the 
sun. 221 To Rabbula faith was not a supplement to reason, but precisely an 
alternative to it. 222 Philoxenus believed so that he might see, and sought 
so that he might find; he sold his wordly goods to purchase secret wis- 
dom 223 and crucified his flesh to beatify his intellect. But Rabbula believed 
so that he might be cured, and obeyed so that he might be redeemed; he 
sold his wordly goods to rid himself of demons, and crucified both flesh 
and intellect to beatify his heaven. 

Philoxenus was hardly the only defender of reason in Syria, but equally 
Rabbula was not the only obscurantist: his epistemology has echoes else- 
where in Syriac literature, 224 just as his career echoes that of countless 
Syrian ascetics who neither made the desert bloom nor practised Christian 
philosophy, but were and remained nazirites. Behaviourally and epistemo- 
logically, the Syrian ascetic was thus all of a piece: armed with the scrip- 
tures from which he drew his identity, his faith and his vocation, he set 
out to fight his own peculiar devils in the pursuit of grace. 

There was thus a certain similarity between the Syria of A.D. 200 and the 
Syria of A.D. 600. Then as now an urban elite and a Hellenised priesthood 
coexisted with a native tradition: in the cities Christian officiakshaA taken 
the place of pagan curiales, and Christian priests, rhetors, sophists, 
scholastics and philosophers had replaced their pagan counterparts; while 
in the countryside a native population looked to the desert for the guidance 
and inspiration it had previously had from its native gods. But if the 
cultural integration effected by Christianity had failed to create an alliance 
between the two, it had drastically changed the polemicalbalance of power : 
by A D. 600 the native tradition, which four hundred years earlier was 
steadily losing in both plausibility and intellectual resources under the 
impact of foreign truths, had turned into a well-equipped and coherent 
alternative. In the first place the Syrian nazirite, for all his rejection of 
the imperial world, was a product of the imperial culture exacdy as were 
Syria and the Suryane. He thus had sophisticated cultural resources at his 
disposal, and where Coptic peasants could only turn Ephesus into a robber 
council by a kind of intellectual jacquerie, Rabbula could present his ob- 
scurantism for a learned audience in Constantinople. 225 In the second place, 
the nazirite differed from the imperial culture, for all his being a product 
of it, in having a solid anchorage in the province. The imperial flotsam 
could of course remain afloat in Syria by the sheer fact that it happened to 
be imperial; but that was a historical accident, and if the political and 
ecclesiastical integument of the Graeco- Roman world should burst it was 
the nazirite the Syrians would save, for he was all they had. 






Islamic civilisation is the outcome of a barbarian conquest of lands of very 
ancient cultural traditions. As such it is unique in history. There is of course 
no lack of experiences of barbarian conquest in the history of civilisation; 
but in so far as the barbarians do not destroy the civilisation they conquer, 
they usually perpetuate it. Nor is there any lack of barbarian transitions to 
civilisation in the history of barbarism; but in so far as the barbarians do 
not take millennia to evolve a civilisation of their own, they usually borrow 
it. But the relationship of the Arabs to antiquity does not fit any of these 
patterns. It is not of course particularly remarkable that the Arabs were 
neither so barbarous as to eradicate civilisation nor so original as to invent 
it for themselves. But they were indeed unusual in that they did not, sooner 
or later, acquire or lose themselves in the civilisation they conquered. In- 
stead, the outcome of their collision with antiquity was the shaping of a 
very new civilisation out of very ancient materials, and that at such a speed 
that by the time the dust of conquest had settled the process of formation 
was already well under way. Any attempt to understand this unique cul- 
tural event must begin by showing what it was about the conquerors and 
the conquered that made such an outcome possible. 

Any aegis for the formation of a new civilisation in the world of antiquity 
had of necessity to be provided by its enemies. The crucial fact about these 
enemies is that they were of two kinds. In the first place there were the 
external barbarians to whom we have already referred, living out their 
'life apart' beyond the frontiers of the civilised world. In itself their 
existence posed only the familiar threat of barbarian conquest : that is to 
say, they possessed the force to overthrow civilisation, but not the values 
to replace it. 1 In the second place, antiquity possessed a more unusual 
enemy in the shape of the Jews inside its frontiers, living out their rejection 
of the Graeco-Roman world in the ghetto. Their existence constituted a 
moral condemnation of civilisation : that is to say, they had the values with 
which to reject the prevailing culture, but even in their own diminutive 
homeland lacked the force to overthrow it. Neither party on its own could 
thus have provided any sort of aegis for the formation of a new civilisation. 


The collision 

There never was any such thing as Judaic civilisation, and there never 
could have been any such thing as barbarian civilisation. And yet there 
was a certain obvious complementarity: if barbarian force and Judaic 
values could be brought into conspiracy, it was just possible that they 
could achieve together what they could not bring about apart. 

At first sight the conditions for such a conspiracy were remarkably 
widespread. In both east and west, after all, the world of antiquity suc- 
cumbed eventually to barbarian conquest and Judaic values. There was 
however a fundamental difference: in the west the Germanic invasion 
and the spread of Christianity were discrete historical processes. 

On the one hand, the spread of Christianity was no military conquest. 
Christianity, like Hagarism, was the product of the preaching of Judaic 
messianism in a gentile environment. But in the Christian case the mes- 
sianism was already a pragmatic failure in its original Jewish context, an 
ugly end to a career in popular medicine, before it was marketed among 
a gentile population that was civilised, ethnically heterogeneous, and 
politically inert. The years that St Paul spent in Arabia following his con- 
version were without significance in the religious politics of Christianity: 
the founder had already instructed his followers that the Christ was not 
in the desert (Mt. 24:26). Instead, Christianity in its Pauline form set 
about the peaceful permeation of the civilised world. This decision pro- 
vided both the motive and the means for a far-reaching transformation 
whereby the more angular features of the Judaic heritage were sublimated 
into metaphor. It provided the motive in that Judaism could not render 
itself marketable in the civilised world without coming to terms with it, 
and the means in that the prevailing Hellenistic culture of this world was 
peculiarly adept at such sublimation. The literal truths of Biblical genea- 
logy were pronounced allegories, thereby abrogating the sanctity of Jewish 
ethnicity and making it possible for the gentiles to become children of the 
promise; and at the same time a cult of the spirit dissolved the forbidding 
harshness of the letter of the law, and the concrete hope of a redemption 
of Israel in this world was replaced by the pious expectation of the salva- 
tion of the faithful in the next. This sublimation of the Judaic heritage was 
not of course by any means complete: Christianity at large is not Marcion- 
ism, just as Chinese Buddhism at large is not Zen. But it remains that 
Christianity had solved the problem of extricating the essence of Judaic 
values from the ghetto by the expedient of leaving their substance behind. 
Judaism in its Christian form had converted civilisation at the cost of 
accepting it. 2 

On the other hand, the Germanic invasions were no religious move- 
ment. The Germans had of course their barbarian force, and they might 
begin by wielding it truculently enough : one Gothic ruler in the early 


Preconditions for Islamic civilisation 

fifth century set out to replace Romania by Gothia. 3 But for one thing the 
Goths, refugees from the Huns who became federates of the Romans, 
lacked the force to create any very evocative sort of Gothia; and for 
another, even if they had been able to set up a Gothic empire with a 
capital in the homeland and an imperial Gothic law in the manner of the 
Mongols, their achievement would still not have sufficed to provide an 
aegis for the remaking of civilisation. For that they needed forceful and 
religious values, and religiously they hardly existed. The Germans began 
for the most part as pagans because they came from outside, and they 
ended up as Christians because they were now inside. Neither paganism 
nor Christianity could provide what was needed : Germanic paganism was 
too remote from the current religious standards of the civilised world, 
Christianity had already accepted and converted this world, and neither 
was historically fused with the conquest. The residue of the Germanic 
invasions was thus a merely ethnic one, a vernacular heritage that survived 
to provide the eventual basis, not of a new civilisation, but of national 
antipathies within one. The barbarian force of the Germans, like the 
Judaic values of the Christians, could cross the frontier into civilisation 
only at the cost of succumbing to it. 

There was of course a certain yoking of force and value in the form of 
Gothic Arianism. But in the light of what has been said above, there was 
clearly httle prospect of it proving an effective conspiracy against civilisa- 
tion. In the first place, there was the way in which the Goths took it up. 4 
Arianism had of course reached the Goths before they crossed the Danube, 
but it had not yet begun to convert them on any scale. Ulfila, like 
Muhammad, had his hijra; but bis flight was from Gothic persecu- 
tion to Roman imperial protection. 5 And when in due course the Goths 
followed him as invaders, they did so for the most part as pagans entering 
a philo-Arian empire. It was only when the Goths reached the west, and 
began to convert to Arianism in a predominendy orthodox environment, 
that the alliance between Christian heresy and barbarian ethnicity was 
formed. In the second place, in taking up with Arianism the Goths were 
• adopting not a religion of their own but an existing heresy of an existing 
faith, Christianity. Despite the vocabulary of Christological insult, Arians 
were no Jews. On the one hand Arianism shared with orthodox Christian- 
ity its acceptance of the prevailing civilisation: it was in no position to 
| Identify the Graeco-Roman world as a cultural Canaan. And on the other 
hand Arianism belonged with orthodox Christianity to a form of Judaism 
f purged of ethnic identification : it was in no position to sanctify the Gothic 
ll^be? by casting them in the role of the conquering Israelites. So that even 
J&Arianism had been fused with Gothic conquest in historical terms, it 
raWluld 'have lacked the ideological resources for exploiting the opportunity. 

It ' 75 

The collision 

The resulting association of Arian heresy with Gothic ethnicity was in 
some ways quite close. Arianism became for the Goths 'our catholic faith' 
in contradistinction to 'the Roman religion', 6 and there was a definite 
sense that it was a religion for Goths and not for others. 1 The alliance 
did something to prolong the survival of both its constituents : it protected 
Arianism against absorption into orthodox Christianity, and it shored up 
the Gothic identity against assimilation into Roman ethnicity. But neither 
the Arian nor the Gothic component was in any way impermeable to the 
prevailing culture. So there were Gothic kings and Arian ecclesiastics, but 
no Gothic Abd al- Malik: in Visigothic Spain the bureaucracy went on 
using Latin, and the reformed coinage bore no Arian legends. 8 Gothic 
Arianism was quite an effective defence of a heresy and an ethnicity, but it 
had no prospect of creating a civilisation. 

Matters could easily have worked out in much the same fashion in the 
east. If Islam had spread in the pacific manner of Christianity, it would of 
necessity have learned to accommodate the traditions of the peoples it 
converted — to seek out Unknown Gods, to present itself as the sort of 
truth that existing elites might care to recognise, to render its scripture into 
idioms they understood. 9 Islam has on occasion proved strikingly flexible 
when confronted with syncretic terms of trade of the kind faced by early 
Christianity: the exotic adaptions of a pacific Islam to the indigenous 
traditions of Java or Dagomba 10 hardly provide instances of the tag.that 
'Islam destroys what went before it'. 1 1 Equally the cultural nerve of Islam 
has not always held in contexts where Islam itself has been exposed to 
alien conquest : witness the weakening of religious intransigence and the 
acceptance of the claims to legitimacy of a non-Islamic law and lineage 
in the north-east in the aftermath of the Mongol conquest. 12 If the actual 
Islam of history could bend in this way before the unconquered traditions 
of Indie Java or pagan Dagomba, and give ground to the conquering 
traditions of the Mongols or in due course the west, then a fortiori an 
Islam that had spread peacefully from the beginning could quite con- 
ceivably have ended as the religion of a Roman polity with a Greek 
civilisation, or as a gentile faith embracing a plurality of Muslim peoples 
retaining their ancestral cultures alongside their new religion. 13 

Equally the Arab conquests did not have to take the form of a religious 
movement. Had the Middle East been invaded by pagan worshippers of 
al-'Uzza and al-Lat in a less fleeting reenactment of the Nabatean conquest 
of Syria, the religious trajectory of the conquerors would probably not have 
differed much from that of the Franks. 14 Had the conquests been initiated 
under the aegis of the Lakhmids or the Ghassanids, had they issued in some 
more durable version of the Palmyrene empire in close association with 
the interests of one or other of the major Christian heresies, it is unlikely 


Preconditions for Islamic civilisation 

that the cultural significance of the Arabs would have been much dif- 
ferent in kind from that of the Arian Goths. In neither case would the 
conquerors have been in a position to leave behind them more than the 
political and cultural foundations of an eventual nationalism comparable 
to those of the Hungarians or the Orthodox Slavs. 15 

Instead, barbarian conquest and the formation of the Judaic faith which 
was eventually to triumph in the east were part of the same historical event. 
What is more, their fusion was already explicit in the earliest form of the 
doctrine which was to become Islam. The preaching of Muhammad inte- 
grated a religious truth borrowed from the Judaic tradition with a religious 
articulation of the ethnic identity of his Arab followers. Thus where Arian 
doctrine was only a truth and Gothic ethnicity only an identity, Hagarism 
was both. In the course of their subsequent evolution, the Hagarenes 
developed their truth almost beyond recognition and embedded their 
identity in an elaborate pagan past. But on the one hand, the religious 
truths they selected, being initially Judaic and never more than marginally 
Christian, placed a wider gap between them and their subjects than mere 
heresy could do in the west : their heresy was more than a heresy. And on 
the other hand, their Shinto remained less than a Shinto: their barbarian 
identity was expressed in terms sufficiendy Biblical to be intelligible and 
defensible in the religious language of the world they had conquered. At 
the same time, the organic link between their truth and their identity 
remained. The structure of Hagarene doctrine thus rendered it capable 
of long-term survival, and the consolidation of the conquest society ensured 
that it did survive. Judaic values had acquired the backing of barbarian 
force, and barbarian force had acquired the sanction of Judaic values : the 
conspiracy had taken shape. 

This shape fortified the Hagarenes against the cultures they had con- 
quered in two basic ways. In the first place, there was no call for the 
Judaic values adopted into Hagarism to go soft in the manner of Christian- 
ity. Historically, these value had left the ghetto not to convert the world 
but to conquer it; and conquerors have no need to appeal to the cultural 
values of their subjects. Conceptually, the Hagarenes separated themselves 
from the Jews by transposition rather than sublimation: 16 instead of 
developing the notion of a 'verus Israel' in the manner of gentile 
Christianity, they had simply substituted Ishmaelite ethnicity for Israe- 
lite; 17 and instead of elaborating a Pauline antinomianism, they went on 
to replace the letter of the law of Moses with the letter of the law of 
Muhammad. They thus preserved that combination of a literal ethnicity 
with the letter of a religious law which had constituted the basis of the 
Judaic 'life apart'. 1 * Allah, like Yahweh, was a jealous God. 

In the second place, the sanction which Judaic values could confer on 


The collision 

barbarian force was a very evocative one. The Jews might live in the 
ghetto, but the myth which articulated their apartness from the Canaanite 
world around them was that of the Israelite tribes in the desert. 19 Thus 
the replacement of Israelites by Ishmaelites in the role of the chosen 
people did more than consecrate the ethnic identity of the conquerors : it 
also invested their erstwhile 'life apart' in the desert with a distincdy 
religious aura. Hagarism had caught and fused the alienation from 
civilisation of both the ghetto and the desert. It was as if by some drastic 
syncopation of Israelite history the tribal conquest of Canaan had led 
direcdy into the Pharisaic resistance to Hellenisation : where Judaism had 
to some extent received the civilising imprint of a Near-Eastern monarchy, 
Hagarism retained the harshness of the Rechabite life in the wilderness. 
The Hagarenes thus rejected the cultural achievements of the conquered 
peoples as so many Canaanite abominations, and laid the foundations of 
their cultural life in the tribal past of their Arabian homeland. 

The contrast between east and west was thus a fundamental one. In 
the west the material impact of the Germanic invasions was something of 
a catastrophe : the empire disintegrated, its bureaucratic machinery dis- 
appeared, and its culture entered a dark age. The role of Christian values 
in this story was by contrast strikingly benign. It is of course true that the 
Christians of the Roman Empire had made a point of deeming themselves 
in exile. But their exile was a transcendental one which they served out 
in the comfort of their own homes: in sedibus suis peregrinos esse senovtrunt, 
and in sedibus suis they studied the writings of the pagan past It hardly 
bespeaks a deep cultural alienation from the world of antiquity that 
Augustine should respond to the Vandal invasion by retiring to his death- 
bed with Plotinus on his Hps. 20 It was thus appropriate that the survival 
of antiquity in the centuries following Augustine's death was due in large 
measure to the conservative role of the Christian church, and natural 
that the Christians of the middle ages should see themselves as the legiti- 
mate if unworthy heirs of this dilapidated inheritance. But in the east the 
roles of the Germans and the Christians arc, so to speak, reversed. For 
all the initial destruction brought about by the Arab conquests, the fact 
of empire survived together with much of its machinery, and a cultural 
level was maintained such that in due course the Islamic world was 
in a position to give a massive transfusion of Hellenic learning to the west. 
But if the Hagarenc conquests did far less violence to antiquity than those 
of the Germans, their concepts did far more than those of the Christians. 
The Hagarene exile, like that of the Jews, was ofthis world, and it there- 
fore carried with it a far more concrete estrangement from its cultural 
environment: even Ash'aritcs died repenting of the truck they had had 
with the impious wisdom of the Greeks. 21 The Hagarenes were thus 


Preconditions for Islamic civilisation 

precluded by their faith from any direct inheritance of the traditions of 
the world they had conquered. The first centuries of Islam were by no 
means a dark age in the afterlife of antiquity; but the light which played 
on them was to be subjected to a very alien polarisation. 

This fusion of force and value, though necessary if the conquerors were to 
create a new civilisation, was far from sufficient to enable them to do so 
irrespective of cultural environment. Two obvious negative points may do 
something to suggest what it was about the seventh-century Middle East 
that rendered it propitious terrain for such a venture. In the first place, 
had the Arabs conquered a Middle East made up of a plurality of integral 
traditions, each an identity and a truth unto itself, they would have been 
too much in the position of the Mongols : the unprecedented opportunity of 
these Central Asiatic conquerors to mix the resources of the disparate civil- 
isations they had conquered fell short of being a change to fuse them. In the 
second place, had the Arabs conquered a Middle East integrated into 
a unitary cultural entity, they would have been too much in the predica- 
ment of the successive barbarian conquerors of China: confronted with 
so unitary a definition of what civilisation was and must be, such barbarians 
could only surrender more or less gracefully to the inevitable cultural 
assimilation ; they were in no position to set about reshaping what they had 
overrun. 22 

These conceptually distinct possibilities are also the poles of a his- 
torical evolution. The history of civilisation in the Middle East begins 
with plurality — Sumeria and Egypt — and might in due course have 
issued in a solidly Byzantine civilisation, with the Iranian menace 
eliminated and the ancient traditions of the Fertile Crescent as irrele- 
vant as those of Anatolia had in fact become. Byzantium, that is to say, 
might eventually have brought about the homogenisation which was in 
historical fact the achievement of Islam. In this perspective it is obvious 
that the reasons for the conduciveness of the seventh-century Middle 
East must be sought in its historically intermediate position between 
die two poles. 

* This intermediate position needs to be spelled out in three ways. In the 
first place, the Middle East — Iran apart — was a region whose peoples had 
lost their ancient civilisations and replaced them by borrowing from others ; 
but they had done so without forgetting that they had once been civilised, 
and without merging their identities in those of the proprietors of the 
traditions they borrowed. It was a situation to which there was litde paral- 
lel in the Latin west: the Spanish had acquired an integral civilisation and 
merged their identity into that of the Romans who had brought it to them, 
while the Berbers had retained an integral barbarism uncontaminated by 

The collision 

civilisation. 23 There thus existed over much of the Middle East a dis- 
junction between alien truth and native identity. 

In the second place, die loss of their own civilisations had rendered 
the peoples of the Middle East provincials of a rather special culture, Hel- 
lenism. And Hellenism, for all its ethnic origins, was as we have seen well 
suited to become the culture of a cosmopolitan elite. 24 It had also, as we 
have seen, developed historically in a fashion which drew some of the sting 
of both its ethnic origin and its social elitism. The Middle East had thus 
undergone a marked homogenisation of cultural truth, and the cultural 
truth had correspondingly lost much of its initial particularity. 

In the third place, the Middle East had undergone a religious analogue 
to this cultural process. Having borrowed its culture from the Greeks, it 
now took its religion from the Jews ; and just as the Greek identity of cul- 
tural truth had been gready etiolated with the demise of the Macedonian 
state and the collapse of the polis, so the Jewish identity of monotheism 
lost its sting altogether with the demise of the Jewish state and the ex- 
trication of the gospel from the ghetto. Here again, the Middle East had 
undergone a homogenisation of truth, and in this case the truth itself had 
severed its links with its ethnic past. 

These relationships between the provincials of the Middle East and 
their borrowed truths are fundamental to the formation of Islamic civilis- 
ation. First, there is the relationship of the provincials to their culture. 
From the point of view of the culture itself, this relationship meant that 
there was a certain potential complementarity between Hellenism and 
Hagarism: the structure of the Heller. : c conquest society having dissolved 
to leave a civilisation thin on identity, and the structure of the Hagarene 
conquest society being about to dissolve to leave an identity thin on civil- 
isation, there was a basis here for a cultural deal such as was inconceivable 
as between Hagarism and Iran. From the point of view of the Arabs, the 
provincial character of the culture they encountered rendered it less over- 
powering — it was in this respect wise to conquer Syria without Byzantium, 
much as it was prudent to take Spain without Rome; while at the same 
time their relative familiarity with the peoples of the Fertile Crescent — the 
product of geographical and linguistic proximity and of a long history of 
Arab cultural clientage — made civilisation in this provincial form that much 
more accessible to them. And from the point of view of the provincials 
themselves, the very special character of their provinciality rendered them 
a strikingly appropriate group to act as cultural intermediaries. The alien 
character of their truths — especially in the case of Hellenism — and the 
etiolated character of their identities — above all in the case of Syria — 
meant that they were not so much the lords of culture as its merchants. 
The Iranian who converted to Islam was a traitor to the entire range of an 


Preconditions for Islamic civilisation 

integral national past; but when the Hagarene conquest decreed the dis- 
mantling of the merely adjunctive unity of the Byzantine tradition, the 
provincials could act as asset-strippers without any comparable sense of 
trabison des clercs. In short, the relationship of the provincials to their 
culture made it possible for the Hagarenes to expose themselves to civil- 
isation only in a form strained through a particular set of provincial 

Secondly, the relationship of the provincials to their Judaic faith had 
significant cultural potentialities. Most obviously, the fact that Chris- 
tianity and Hagarism were alike adaptions of the same Judaic truth confer- 
red on the faith of the conquerors an intelligibility which, in the pagan 
Middle East of a few centuries before, it could not conceivably have en- 
joyed. At the same time the fact that the Middle East now possessed not 
one but two accredited international currencies of truth gave rise to the 
possibility of speculating in one against the other: where the Nabateans on 
conquering Damascus issued Philhellenist coins in inevitable allegiance to 
the culture they had vanquished, the Hagarenes could issue philomono- 
theist coins against it; and conversely, the provincials could sell Hellenism 
to the conquerors without treason either to their ancestors or their God. 
But it was above all the difference between the two currencies that was 
significant : it was after all no accident that among the victims of Christian 
intolerance, it was the Jews fleeing from Heraclius rather than the phil- 
osophers fleeing from Justinian whose exodus issued in the raising of the 
Arabian tribes 25 . For in adopting even a watered-down version of Judaism, 
civilisation had landed itself with a sort of ideological Achilles' heel. 26 
Hellenism had as little use for the rudeness of barbarian tribes as Con- 
fucianism; 27 but Christianity, as a faith derived from the Israelite tradi- 
tion, was at least open to the insidious suggestion that the rudeness that 
was a vice to civilisation might yet be a monotheist virtue. What this meant 
for the Arabs themselves when they re-enacted the conquest of Canaan, 
we have already considered; the point to be underlined here is the subtle 
change in the ideological scenario that comes about when the Canaanites 
themselves are the committed devotees of a somewhat Canaanised Yahweh 
cult. This time the potential barbarian fifth-column in civilisation was not 
restricted to harlots. 28 

These a priori considerations have of course to be related to the actual 
shape of the Arab conquest; and the dominating contrast here is that 
between Iran and Byzantium. Iran was no asset to barbarians engaged in 
reshaping a civilisation: an integral tradition only mildly affected by the 
truths of the Greeks and the Jews, the Arabs were culturally ill-advised 
enough to swallow it whole. Had Iran been all that they conquered, their 
chances of creating a civilisation would have been minimal; and as it was, 


The collision 

Iran was dearly their greatest liability. In the event, however, a number 
of factors helped to draw the worst of its teeth. Most obviously, Iran was 
to some extent lost in the wider field of conquests. More subdy, there was a 
certain disarming of the Iranian metropolis through a combination of cir- 
cumstances: on the one hand the Sasanian capital — for geographical 
reasons already partly manifest with the Achaemenids — lay outside the 
ethnic homeland of Iran in the cosmopolitan milieu of lower Iraq; and on 
the other the Hagarene capital — for reasons arising from the early 
political history of the Hagarenes — was in the crucial period following the 
conquests located not in the Iranian metropolis but in a Byzantine province. 
As a result the wreckage of the Sasanian metropolis was left to rot without 
either the support it would have enjoyed had it been situated in its own 
ethnic heartland, or the attention it would have compelled had it been the 
site of the Hagarene capital. 

The political geography of the Hagarene relationship to the Byzantine 
world was very different: a tradition that could be taken to pieces was 
itself geographically truncated. Unlike Iran, Byzantium had its political 
centre in what was relatively speaking its ethnic heartland, and by the same 
token far away from the provincials of the Fertile Crescent: the Greeks of 
Syria were nothing beside the Persians of Iraq. And in contrast to their 
rapid and complete conquest of Iran, the Arabs left Byzantium and Hel- 
lenised Anatolia unconquered into the late middle ages. The Hagarenes 
thus apdy maximised their cultural initiative when they demoted the 
Sasanid metropolis to provincial status and set up their own in a severed 
Byzantine province. And it was in the intersection of barbarian monothe- 
ism with this civilised provinciality that Islamic civilisation was born. 




The interaction of Hagarism with the provinces of the Fertile Crescent is 
at once the most crucial and the most complex process in the formation of 
the new civilisation. It is also a process in the analysis of which the fates 
of the provinces inside this civilisation on the one hand, and their con- 
tributions to it on the other, are in the last resort inseparable. Yet it is sim- 
plest to start one-sidedly with the crude historical fact that the Fertile 
Crescent was sooner or later overwhelmingly Islamicised and Arabised. 
It is useful to begin here with the variant trajectories of the different com- 
munities of Iraq. 

The weakness of the Christian position in Iraq was a dual one: the 
aristocratic structure of their church rendered the Christians socially 
vulnerable to conquest by a jealous God, and the gentile nature of their 
truth made it relatively easy for them to forsake it for another. But 
although these points applied equally to the provincial church of 
Assyria and the metropolitan church in Babylonia, there was neverthe- 
less a difference between the two in respect of the mechanics of decline. 
The Assyrian church was based almost exclusively on a landed aristo- 
cracy, and both aristocracy and peasants were almost exclusively Ara- 
means. The Assyrians had accordingly taken advantage of Yahweh's 
Christian gentility to sanctify the after-image of their own Assyrian 
polity, and though the Aramean ethnicity was in itself both weak and 
diffuse, as Assyrians the Christians of northern Mesopotamia enjoyed an 
ethnic, social and historical solidarity which was both worldly and 
transcendental: unlike the metropolitan Christians they were not only 
children of the promise and brothers in Christ. Here, therefore, nobles 
and peasants stuck it together. If the Muslims had been prepared to tole- 
rate a local aristocracy with a local faith, the Christians might have sur- 
vived as an Adiabene under Arab hegemony; conversely, if the Muslims 
'had volunteered to sanctify the aristocracy as their own, the Christians 
might perhaps have converted together in a Muslim after-image of Adia- 
bene. But in practice the Muslims envinced no such tolerance and the 
nobles had no such interest in converting. The result was that nobles and 

The collision 

peasants alike remained Christians, 1 the nobles gradually declining into 
peasants, 2 and the peasants declining into defenceless victims of the 
bedouin marauders who assailed them from the desert and the Turkish and 
Mongol armies which marched across their land between the centres of 
civilisation. With the loss of their nobles they no longer had any represen- 
tatives to keep them going, and they had never possessed an ethnic faith to 
keep them from converting : even a Ninive was no substitute for a Zion, 
just as even obscurantist priests 3 were no surrogate for rabbis ; and although 
they refused to vanish altogether from the earth, it was a sorry remnant 
of Assyria the Europeans were to excavate along with the ruins of their 

By contrast the Christians in Babylonia had a predominandy Persian 
aristocracy in a predominandy Aramean countryside on the one hand, 
and an urban elite of similarly diverse origins on the other. Here, then, 
Yahweh's Christian gentility had been used to desanctify the Persian polity 
so that Christians might accept it, and here equally the ethnic, social and 
historical continuity of the church was purely transcendental. This did of 
course make the metropolitan church very flexible: what the Nestorians 
had rendered to a secular King of Kings they would not have withheld 
from a secular caliph, 4 and had the Muslim state not been intrinsically 
sacred the Christians might perhaps have survived. But it also made the 
metropolitan church very loose : in northern Mesopotamia the ecclesiastical 
machinery reinforced a pre-existing moral continuity between elite and 
masses, but in Babylonia it had to create it — a task in which the aristocratic 
orientation of the church made success distincdy unlikely. Conscquendy, 
when the nobles all but unanimously decided to stick it as Christians, 5 their 
peasants left them to make it as Muslims; and the peasants having steadily 
left for Basra from the mid-Umayyad period onwards, 6 the 'Chaldean 
delta' had become solidly Muslim territory by the middle of the ninth 
century. 7 

The remaining Christian elite of the cities succumbed to Hagarene 
monotheism primarily via the Hellenising pluralism which the 'Abbasid 
caliphs engendered, the phenomenon which in effect spelt doom to all the 
non- Muslim urban elites except the Jews. When the 'Abbasid enlighten- 
ment lured the non-Muslims from their ghettoes to take part in an inter- 
confessional discussion of truth conducted in the international language 
of philosophy at the court of Baghdad, the effect was unsurprisingly a 
renewed attack of the vertigo of relativity : on the one hand the rival truths 
were no longer insulated by physical segregation, and on the other they 
could no longer be kept apart by intellectual segregation. The common 
language deprived the traditional explanations of religious diversity of 
their old unthinking plausibility, with the new and unsettling consequence 


The Hagarisation of the Fertile Crescent 

that both the explanations and the truths were put in perspective and so 
ceased to be supreme. There were some who went Stoic, salvaging the relig- 
ions as so many municipal signposts to the more elevated insights of con- 
ceptual philosophy : thus al-Farabi, * the Brethren of Purity and other Isma 'ili 
circles, 9 or the tenth-century Syriac Book, of the Cause of Causes,- 10 equally 
there were some who went Epicurean, rejecting the religions as so many 
superstitions and intransigently adopting against them the supreme truths 
of philosophy : thus many Zindtqs, 11 Dahrh, 12 al-RazI, 13 Ibn al-Rawandl, 14 
the Jew Hiwi of Balkh, 15 or the Chaldean Ibn Wahshiyya. 16 But at all 
events religious pluralism wrought havoc with the gods, bringing cognitive 
Babel back where it belonged. 17 

It was evidently the non- Muslims who were going to be the losers in 
this search for a truth above the truths. The non-Muslims were on the de- 
fensive as the Muslims were not, and relativising their truths meant 
relativising their defences. 18 The Christians had an advantage over the 
Jews in that Christianity had long ago come to terms with conceptual 
philosophy, and those Christians who were brought to convert direcdy via 
philosphy were correspondingly few;" and they had an advantage over 
the pagan Chaldeans in that philosophy was not a vehicle of their identity, 
whence the greater ease with which they could share it with the Muslims. 
But in return they were weaker than either the Jews or the pagans in the 
ease with which they could shift their religious truth when the enlighten- 
ment had created a culture with secular appeal : as a Muslim in Baghdad 
'AE b. 'Isa could study Greek philosophy and medicine, cultivate grammar, 
poetry and secretarial style, research into Harranian religion, dispute with 
the Jews, and retrieve what Christianity he had left in Muslim Sufism. 20 
The Christians having neither Zion nor Chaldea to keep them in a 'life 
apart', they disappeared as Muslim secretaries. 21 

The Jews and the pagans, on the other hand, were in the same boat to 
the extent that both had fused their truths with their identities, 22 and 
that both were represented by a learned laity. This meant that, unlike 
the Christians, they were not vulnerable to foreign conquest; and at 
first sight the two communities were equally well-placed to resist con- 
version. But there was of course a vital difference : the Jewish truth was 
a personal God, that of the pagans impersonal concepts. And this meant 
two things. 

In the first place, the astrological cycles of the Chaldeans could gene- 
rate neither ethnic unity, social solidarity, nor historical meaning. 
Ethnically the cycles were without a chosen people; socially they were 
intelligible only to the elite; and historically they could only explain, 
but not justify the present. The Jews could obey their God, mourn 


Tbe collision 

their polity, and hope for their redemption; but the Chaldeans could 
only study inexorable revolutions. It is true of course that the astrologic- 
al core of late paganism had undergone endless modifications in recog- 
nition of the fact that men are afflicted with sublunar emotions; on 
the one hand the Chaldeans mourned their polity and hoped that their 
turn would return, 23 and on the other they developed a certain concern 
for the masses. 24 But the fact remained that the stars could not articu- 
late these emotions: their very point was to be above them, and so long 
as the stars remained the star-gazers could not coherently adopt a more 
teicestrial perspective. The masses, however, were unlikely to achieve 
such detachment; and if on the one hand the stars raised up a people 
that denied their influence, 25 and on the other this people made them 
the offer of solidarity and meaning through the cult of an ethnic God, 
small wonder that the masses obeyed the stars and converted. 26 

In the second place, the conceptual character of Chaldean paganism 
meant that its adherents could not share their truth without effacing their 
identity. Universal laws can be a peculiar truth only by copyright, not 
operation ; and where one either became a Jew or expropriated the Jewish 
God, one could practise astrology with at the most a polite acknowledge- 
ment. Muslims could borrow Chaldean truths without running any risk of 
becoming Chaldeans; but Chaldeans who sold their truths sold also their 
identity, and this they could not do in a Muslim environment without 
running the risk of disappearing into it themselves. 

So the pagan elite succumbed to Muslim pluralism as the pagan masses 
had succumbed to Muslim monotheism: when one could be a Muslim 
practising astrology, the pagans no longer had a truth with which to resist. 
The ninth-century exodus of Thabit b. Qurra and his likes from r^arran 27 
accordingly led on to the tenth-century conversion of Hilal al-Sabi' in 
Baghdad; 28 while the tenth-century Ibn Wabshiyya could only reassert a 
Shu'ubi copyright. 29 

Only the Jews had an ethnic God: unlike the Christians they could 
afford to be sceptics and still retain their Judaic ethnicity, and unlike the 
Chaldeans they could afford to practise astrology and still retain their 
Judaic God. 30 The Jewish God did not of course go very well with con- 
cepts, and there were accordingly Jews who were brought to convert by 
means of them; 31 but most of them merely played around with the new 
conceptual toys. Sa'adya Gaon borrowed philosophy, obeyed his God and 
mourned his polity, where Ibn Wahshiyya succumbed to a God and bor- 
rowed language from the Jews to mourn his. 32 The Jews of Babylon there- 
fore survived to be ingathered in modern times by their secular redemption ; 
but of the pagans, only the Mandeans survived into modern times to seek 
redemption in Marxist revolutions. 33 


The Hagarisation of the Fertile Crescent 

Although Iraq thus became a predominantly Muslim country, its fate was 
still not an unrelenting Hagarisation. In the first place, the surviving 
Christians remained 'Syrians': 34 despite the early adoption of Arabic 35 
and the ultimate disappearance of Syriac as a literary language, 36 Syriac 
survived as the liturgical language throughout the province and as a ver- 
nacular in the rural strongholds of the Assyrians ; 31 similarly, despite the 
total ignorance to which the Nestorians had been reduced, they were in 
no doubt as to their own non-Arab identity. The coming of the Europeans 
thus meant the revival of the Suryane, and not as in Syria their final dis- 
appearance among the Arabs. Where the Christians of Syria were to turn 
down the label of Arabised Greeks, those of Iraq readily accepted iden- 
tification as Chaldeans and Assyrians ; 38 where the Christians of Syria were 
to lead the way in creating a modern Arab culture, those of northern Iraq 
adopted modern Syriac ; and where the Christians of Syria were to provide 
the theorists of Arab nationalism, the Assyrians yearned once more for a 
polity in Ninive's fair city and Mosul's fertile plain. 39 

1 In the second place, the converts left an after-image: the image of 
Assyria projected onto an Arab screen in the case of the Christians, that of 
Babylon in its Chaldean form in the case of the pagans. The Assyrians had 
a vpolity where the metropolitan Christians were above polities, and it is 
therefore not surprising that only Assyria came through via the Christians. 
But at the same time the Assyrians shared their ethnicity 40 and the met- 
ropolitan Christians were above ethnicities, and it is therefore equally 
unsurprising that the Christians failed to make their mark ethnically or lin- 
guistically in Islam : on the one hand there was no Syrian Shuubism, 41 and 
on the other there were no 'Syrian' Muslims. 42 But if the converts failed to 
retain their civilisation as Suryane, they could nevertheless do so as South 
Arabians; and the Arab Christians of Najran having settled in Najrah of 
Kufa to provide the pivot, 'an Arab from Dayr Qunna' came to mean a 
spurious Yemeni. 43 The Christian converts thus became Arabs, but Arabs 
with a difference; and it was as part of this rather different Arab heritage 
that the Assyria of the converts 44 reappeared. The king of Hatra in north- 
ern 'Mesopotamia was accordingly either an Assyrian, 45 an Arab with an 
^Assyrian title, 46 or simply a South Arabian; 47 and if he was quite correctly 
ffeiftembered to have defeated Septimius Severus 48 and to have been de- 
feated in turn by Shapur, 49 he was also endowed with the more fanciful 
[reputation of having conducted Sennacherib's expedition against Jerusalem 
in the days of Jeremiah. 50 Likewise the king of Hira in southern Meso- 
potamia was regarded as an Assyrian or South Arabian, 51 and if the 
dynasty of Hira was too well-known to acquire Biblical deeds, it could 
at least descend from Ahiqar; 52 while Ahiqar himself, though known in 

Christian Arabic, reappears in his Muslim guise as Luqman the Wise. 53 

The collision 

The Chaldean after-image, by contrast, reappeared in its own right. 
Having fused their truth with their identity, the Chaldeans were bound to 
resist Arabisation with all the resources of language, polity and culture 
at their disposal. Propaganda for Aramaic thus came primarily from a 
pagan background, 54 just as only the pagans produced Aramaic-speaking 
Muslims. 55 The fabulous kings of Babel, their priests of esoteric wisdom, 
their literati and their sages were mustered with a force which, the etiola- 
tion of the tradition notwithstanding, 56 secured for Babylon an after- 
image in Islam second only to that of Iran. 57 But the Chaldean zeal was 
self-defeating : where other Shu'ubis banded together in a chorus of pro- 
tests against the Arab identification of Islam, Ibn Wahshiyya directed his 
hatred indiscriminately against all who threatened his Chaldean primacy, 
be they Arabs, Persians, 58 Greeks, 59 Assyrians 60 or even Syrians. 61 The 
Chaldeans having articulated their identity in terms of universal concepts, 
civilisation had to be Chaldean outright or to leave the Chaldeans alone. 62 
But since the Chaldean concepts came in a cleaner version from Greece and 
Iran, they lost the copyright; and since they lived in lower Iraq, they 
could not be left alone; and so for all the initial vividness of their after- 
image, the Chaldeans lost their ethnicity in that of the Arabs as they had 
lost their truths in Islam. 

The trajectories of the various communities of Iraq were thus far from 
identical: the differing relationships between their identities and their 
truths on the one hand, and the differing social embodiments of the various 
traditions on the other, made for very disparate capacities for resistance to 
Hagarisation. But these variations nevertheless conceal a certain overall 
homogeneity: all the Iraqi communities, whether Christian, Jewish or 
pagan, set out knowing perfecdy well who they were, and none had any 
particular need of an Arab identity. The Jews apart, all were more or less 
overtaken by Hagarisation; but what overtook them was unambiguously 
their fate, not their destiny. 

In contrast to the Iraqi experience, Hagarism was not the fate of Syria but 
its redemption. It is true, of course, that the blessing remained for some 
time in disguise. The Hagarenes were after all no Christians, and the 
Syrians no doubt had every intention of continuing as before. But although 
they may have felt at least as well-placed to survive as non-Arabs in the 
name of Christianity as they had been to survive as non- Greeks in the name 
of Monophysitism, the Syrians were in fact doomed. 

The Syrians had survived in Christian Byzantium because Christianity 
is only a religion. It was at once the supreme metropolitan truth and the 
one truth that the metropolitans themselves had not invented ; and as long 
as truth and identity were in this way conceptually distinct, the Syrians 


The Hagarisation of the Fertile Crescent 

could play one against the other. Conversely, it was because Christianity 
is only a religion, or in other words a truth which can be combined with 
any ethnicity and polity, that Christians could contrive to hang on in 
Muslim Syria: 63 the notions of Arab Jews, Arab Zoroastrians or Arab 
Berbers are at the very least problematic, but Arab Christians are a head- 
ache only to the Muslims. So where Abu 'Isa al-Isfahani, Bihafarid and 
Ha-mlm tried to save their ethnic and political identities by syncretic deals 
with the new Hagarene truth, it was as difficult for the Christians to revolt 
in the name of Christianity 64 as it was by the same token easy for them to 
accept the Arabs as their deliverers. 65 Yet it was also because Christianity 
is only a religion that the Syrians could not in the last resort survive when 
the distinction between the metropolitan truth and identity had ceased to 
exist. They could flog the Greeks with their barbarian doctrine, but against 
the Hagarenes they needed a worldly identity, preferably one fused with 
their truth; and this they did not possess. That Jesus was no Greek might 
embarrass the Hellenes, but he would have had to be a very committed 
Syrian for his ethnicity to make much impression on the Hagarenes ; like- 
wise it might impress the Hellenes that cultural inventiveness was not 
purely Greek, but the purely Christian Shu'ubism of the Syrians contained 
nothing to dent the cultural pride of the Hagarenes. 66 The Arab Ghassa- 
nids could join in restoring a Syrian church as fellow-barbarians against the 
Greeks; but they were no Syrian barbarians against the Arabs, and if 
Jabala b. al-Ayham opted for a Christian exile in Byzantium, 67 most of his 
subjects appropriately made themselves at home as Hagarenes in Syria. 
Christians to God and barbarians to the Greeks, the Syrians would have 
needed a rather more consolidated identity against the Arabs. 

Consequendy, when the divine punishment was obviously going to last 
a good deal longer than the usual run of earthquakes, famines, droughts, 
locusts, plagues and invasions with which the Lord habitually chastiseth 
whom He loveth, the Syrians began to go soft. By the end of the eighth 
century the hopefully temporary chastisement for our Christian sins had 
become a presumably permanent punishment for the heresies of the 
Greeks ; 68 and when in the thirteenth the Crusades threatened to bring back 
the Chalcedonians, it was firmly agreed that the conquests had left us all 
better off. 69 Arabic may have begun to make inroads on Syriac as a spoken 
language as early as the beginning of the eighth century; 70 by the tenth 
century it had become a Christian literary language, 71 by the eleventh 
Syriac had ceased to be spoken, 72 and by the fourteenth it had ceased to 
be written. 13 By this time the Jacobites had all but disappeared among 
the Arabs, and the Melkites had inherited the designation Suryane ™ by 
the sixteenth century the Jacobites had all but disappeared in Islam, 75 and 
the Melkites went on to inherit their Ghassanid ancestors. 76 When the 


The collision 

European missionaries came to Syria, the remaining Christians were with 
few exceptions 'sons of the Arabs' by spoken, literary and liturgical 
language, by culture and by descent. 77 Paradise lost to the Greeks was 
Paradise regained with the Arabs : redeemed by Jesus the Messiah in the 
next world, it had taken 'Umar the Faruq to redeem them in this. 78 

But if a small Christian minority continued to exist down the cen- 
turies, by far the majority of Suryane changed both identity and truth. Just 
as the separateness of metropolitan identity and truth had supplied both the 
motive and the mechanism for the survival of the Syrians vis-a-vis the 
Greeks, so now their fusion constituted both a lure and a stranglehold vis- 
a-vis the Hagarenes. On the one hand the Syrians could not survive in 
Islam any more than they could outside it: unlike the Iranians they pos- 
sessed no secular identity, and if there are Persian Muslims there were never 
any Muslim Suryane. And on the other they had httle incentive to attempt 
to survive in Islam, though they certainly tried to outside it: unlike the 
Iranians they had nothing to lose, and it takes vast erudition to find a 
Syrian Shu'ubi. 79 At the same time, the exceptionally dispersed character 
of the Arab setdement in Syria meant that, if the Arabs were not going to 
be absorbed into the Syrians, the Syrians themselves were the more 
easily absorbed into the Arabs. 

The conversion of Syria to Islam is therefore as totally lost in the 
Muslim sources as is the conversion of Syrian culture into Islamic. The 
chroniclers record neither an influx of peasants to the Arab cities on the 
Nestorian pattern nor massive peasant rebellions on the model of the 
Copts, and it takes Syriac sources to show that the Syrians had neither to 
be lured from the land nor crushed: the process started early 80 and pro- 
ceeded relendessly. 81 Nor do the chroniclers record any Syrian efforts to 
accommodate their civilisation in Islam: it takes Syriac sources to show 
that what civilisation they had they marshalled as Christians, 82 and 
what they marshalled as Muslims was neither Sanchuniathon, Julia Domna 
nor the Syrian saints but the glory of Kedar. 83 The Syrian messiah is 
not the king of Baalbek, but the Sufyaru who will restore Mu'awiya's 
Syrian empire and who will come, God willing, before the end of times 
when we shall all be alive. 84 Equally Syrian culture was Arab, lizards and 
all : at the very time when the 'Abbasid court was buying Greek philosophy 
from the Nestorians, the son of Theodosius, a wineseller from Damascus, 
adopted the name of Habib b. Aws al-Ta'i to become a protagonist of the 
southern Arabs, a great anthologist and poet who would recite his qasidas 
in bedouin garb before an unappreciative Ma'mun. 85 Whether Christians 
or Muslims, the Syrians had finally found out who they were. 

Once Syria had vanished from the hands of both Christians and Mus- 
lims, the effort to revive it could only prove ridiculous as Pharaonism 


The Hagarisation of the Fertile Crescent 

did not. Egypt stripped of its monotheist invaders could still be Kerne to 
the Copts ; but Syria subjected to the same treatment was invisible except to 
the highly scientific eye of Antun Sa'ada. 86 Pharaonism went back to a 
real past, but Syria never had any pyramids against the whirlwinds in the 
south. Hence if the fate of the Syrian Muslims was to become pan-Arabists, 
the fate of the Christians could only be to beat the Muslims at Arabism as 
the Muslims had beaten them at it in the beginning. Islam purged of its 
monotheist accretions 87 thus became Arab culture to Jurji Zaydan, Arab 
nationalism to Nejib Azoury, Arab socialism to Michel 'Aflaq, and Arab 
defence to George Habash. The Copts and the Nestorians are Zionists who 
have lost their claim to the lands they once possessed; 88 but the Syrians 
have joined the Palestinians. 

9 1 



Thanks to Judaic monotheism the Hagarenes who conquered Syria pos- 
sessed both a truth and an identity; but the two did not amount to a 
civilisation. On the one hand neither contained any answers to the 
problems of settled life, and on the other the existence of such answers 
in the lands they had conquered made it impossible for the Hagarenes to 
take their time in evolving their own. Conversely, thanks to Hellenic 
pluralism, the Canaanites of seventh-century Syria had both a civilisation 
and a truth; but the two did not amount to an identity. On the one hand 
their truth was purely religious, and on the other the civilisation was not 
their own. The Arabs and the Syrians were thus uniquely able to be of 
assistance to each other. Had the Arabs conquered the province in the 
third century after Christ, the exodus of the Greek elite to the metropolis 
would hardly have left much culture for the conquerors to appropriate; 
and had they waited until the tenth century, the erosion of the Syrian 
identity would hardly have left much distance between the culture and the 
provincials. But as it was, the Hagarenes established their capital in a 
province where the combination of a Christian truth and an etiolated 
identity had worked a cultural alienation no less concrete than the 
combination of a Jewish truth and a barbarian identity among die 
Hagarenes themselves. The Syrians were precluded from accepting the 
traditions of the world they inhabited, just as the Hagarenes were pre- 
cluded from appropriating them when they conquered it. Hence, if there 
was a certain general complementarity between the needs and resources 
of Hagarenes and provincials, it was in Syria that this complementarity 
was most pronounced. Syria was in effect full of ownerless cultural pro- 
perty ; and while the Iraqis were certainly qualified to act as asset-strippers, 
it was the Syrian evolues to barbarism who actually needed to peddle 
Greek culture in return for an identity: they could nationalise civilisa- 
tion only as Arabs. Conversely, the Arabs in electing to import Hellenism 
from the Syrians could escape the cultural clientage of the Nabatean 
evolues to civilisation: they acquired civilisation in the guise of an Arab 
product. The Arab tour de force was thus matched by an equally thorough- 


The cultural expropriation of the Fertile Crescent 

going Syrian tour de faiblesse: whether described as the Syrian adoption 
of Arabia or the Arab expropriation of Syria, the fate of Syria was to 
disappear and its contribution was correspondingly crucial and elusive. 
It is as easy to appropriate ownerless cultural property as it is hard to 
trace its owners, and if the Syrian mission civilisatrice were to Hagarise 
its culture, the Hagarenes would duly appear to have created this culture 
themselves. It was precisly because Hagarene children had been taught by 
Christian priests in 'Abd al- Malik's Syria' that Mutawakkil could expel the 
Christian children from Muslim schools and the Christian priests from 
Muslim Samarra. 2 

The Syrians were in other words uniquely qualified to elaborate a 
civilisation within the directives laid down by the Hagarene aegis. In the 
first place, they possessed no integral tradition which they could either 
transmit to their conquerors or suffer the loss of themselves. From the point 
of view of the tribal conquerors, the difference between the Ishmaelite and 
Israelite conquests of the land was that the cultural baalim of the Hellen- 
ised Canaanites no longer had the power to tempt; or to shift the imagery 
to what ought in its time to have been a second conquest of the land, if 
Jesus had of necessity renounced this world to a Roman emperor, then a 
fortiori the Hagarenes were under no converse temptation to renounce the 
next to Christian priests. So Syria having only a foreign emperor and a 
foreign church, the Hagarenes easily by-passed both to preserve their 
fusion of religion and politics in a Samaritan imamate. But although this 
was an essential move for the preservation of the Hagarene religion, it 
did not in itself preclude a certain Fortleben of Hellenic civilisation. 3 Had 
the Syrians felt that their civilisation was truly their own, they might 
accordingly have thrown in their lot with the Umayyad priests in an 
attempt to salvage a more integral legacy. Yet despite the occasional hint 
of such collaboration, 4 the emperor left few yearnings for a Roman order 
of society 5 just as the bishop left few yearnings for a Greek order of the 
universe. What the emperor, the elite and their philosophy unbared on their 
departure was thus a covenant, a nazirite ideal, and a scripture: the 
inadequate resources, in other words, of an implicit rejection of civilisation. 
The Canaanites had already in effect made an abortive shot at Hagarism, 6 
but they lacked the tribes ; so that when the tribes eventually arrived, it 
was Hagarism and not Hellenism which represented temptation. 1 

In the second place, the Syrians at last had an integral identity to gain. 
The case of Abu Tammam was in this respect paradigmatic : as the son of 
Thcodosius he could at best imitate the Greeks, but as the son of Aws he 
might emulate and even surpass them. Just as it was in Syria that Mu' awiya 
collected the Muallaqat, 8 so it was the Syrian Abu Tammam who glorified 
the Arab past with its heroic climax at Dhu Qir. 9 As a Christian Anthony 


The collision 

of Takrit had to quote Homer and Plutarch as well as Ephraim to prove the 
superiority of Syriac, and so he had to admit the superiority of Greek; 10 
but as Muslims with their conceptually fused Jabiliyya, polity and scrip- 
ture, Buhturi, Maymun b. Mihran and the Banu 1-Muhajir were freed of 
imported poets, parallel lives and translated scriptures alike. Buhturi could 
thus write Arabic poetry for an Arab caliph,' 1 just as Maymun b. Mihran 
could serve one, teach his children and record his deeds, 12 and Ibn Abil- 
Muhajir could serve one, teach his children, and specialise in scripture, 13 
within the reassuringly unitary framework of the same Arab inirnitability. 
Plots of Hellenistic dramas, themes of Hellenistic novels, bits and pieces of 
Greek thought 14 and odds and ends of Roman law 15 were all torn from 
their original contexts to provide materials for an Arab edifice. In all 
cases the Arabs supplied the structures, and the Syrians gratefully obliged 
with their bricks. 

This self-effacing character of the Syrian role meant two things. First, 
it made it possible for the barbarians to set their own cultural tone. Where 
the Romans exposed to the Greek tradition could only present their 
Jabiliyya in the form of a Homeric epic, and the Manchus in Confucian 
China could only turn theirs into essay questions for state examinations, 
the Hagarenes were under no such compulsion to restate their identity 
in the cultural language of their subjects. Had the Syrians by the seventh 
century become as zealously Greek as the Celtiberians had become 
Romans, Mu'awiya might have demanded the collection of the Muallaqdt 
in the form of an Arab Iliad; but whatever the ultimate status of pre- 
Islamic poetry, its transmitters were no epigoni of Homer. Conversely, had 
the Arab capital been located in Iraq, 'AH might have ordered an edition 
of the Arab past on the model of that of the Iranians ; but whatever the role 
of Hammad al-Rawiya 16 in the transmission and forging of tribal poetry, 
he was no precursor of Firdawsi. Consequently the Arabs were in a posi- 
tion to encash their Jabiliyya as a peculiarly distinctive culture. Secondly, 
Syrian self-effacement meant that Syria could act as a filter, not only of the 
Greek tradition in Syria itself, but also of other traditions, Greek or non- 
Greek, which had already been filtered through a provincial environ- 
ment elsewhere. Thus Iranian statecraft reached them only in the pro- 
vincial version of 'Abd al-Hamid b. Yabya, probably a Christian from 
Anbar, who seems likewise to have combined the epistolary style of the 
provincials of Byzantine Syria with that of the provincials of Sasanian 
Iraq, thereby creating the peculiar Arab blend which ultimately set the 
tone of the Muslim chancery. 17 In Syria the Hagarenes had neither 
Byzantine court histories nor Sasanian royal annals to cope with : just as 
Syriac sheltered them from Procopius, so they got their Iranian history 
via South Arabia, from men such as 'Ubayd b. Shariya, a Yemeni who 


The cultural expropriation of the Fertile Crescent 

presumably drew his knowledge from the local Iranians. It was similarly in 
the Yemen that the Iranian Wahb b. Munabbih acquired the Jewish lore 
which he transmitted to the Hagarenes of Syria, just as it was the Yemeni 
Awza'i who presented them with a Judaic law. 18 In this way the 
Hagarenes could undergo an exposure to etiolated versions in Damascus 
before they had to face the more integral traditions in Iraq. The Syrians 
Hagarised not only themselves and the culture they had known before 
the conquest, but also whatever culture was subsequendy brought to their 

There were only two exceptions to this general readiness of the Syrians 
to peddle such culture as came their way as so many spare parts. First, they 
did possess one treasure of their own in the shape of the nazirite; and the 
Syrian ascetic unsurprisingly came through not only in his integrity, but 
also early, in the shape of Abu Dharr, Abu 1-Darda' and their likes," 
who were in time to develop into Sufi saints. Secondly, they did have a 
sufficiendy integrated theological tradition for Christian concepts to 
reemerge in Muslim guise, sparingly in the Ghaylaniyya 20 and more full- 
bloodedly in the Qadariyya; 21 and if Syria had remained the capital it 
might have played a greater role in the transmission of Greek philosophy 
than it actually did. 22 

To some extent, however, these two contributions were themselves 
mutually exclusive. There is of course no intrinsic incompatabUity between 
Sufism and theology, and in so far as Sufism may be defined as Christianity 
stripped of its ecclesiastical organisation, there was nothing to prevent 
theologians and mystics being off -shoots of the same Greek philosophy; 
tod so indeed they were in Iraq. But although the Syrian theologians 
inherited something of the concepts of the HeHenised church, the Syrian 
Sufi perpetuated the rival values of the nazirite. And since the Syrians 
were prepared to relinquish the cities to Muslim rabbis if the latter in turn 
Would make over the 'people of the land' to Muslim nazirites, it was in 
its jiazirite asceticism rather than its theological concepts that Syria lived 
on., Just as Greek philosophy in Islam was a Fortleben of Nestorian, not 
Jacobite Christianity, 23 so also the Greek heritage in Sufism derives from 
Iraqi not Syria. 24 One is an Iraqi by culture and a Syrian by asceticism, as 
ihfe Brethren of Purity have it, 25 and it is therefore not inappropriate 
that the Syrians received their Greek philosophy through Baghdad. 26 
She nazirite ' Amir b. 'Abd Qays who was exiled from Basra might find a 
more congenial environment in Mu'awiya's Syria, 27 but the Qadaris who 
disappeared from Syria found a more congenial environment in Mu'tazilite 
Basra. 28 ; Abu 1-Darda' shed recognisably Christian tears, 2 * and the 
4 tl<dhrl tribesmen were afflicted with Hagarised Platonic love; 30 but the 
perpetuation of the Greek heritage as such could not be the work of the 


The collision 

Syrians. The ecclesiastical and monastic integument of Hellenism having 
burst, neither the Syrians nor the Arabs had any interest in saving its 
contents intact; and the transmission, as opposed to pulverisation, of the 
Hellenic tradition was therefore bound to be an overwhelmingly Iraqi 

Iraq was a province of much richer cultural resources than Syria, but it 
was also a province in which neither the etiolation of identity nor the 
homogenisation of truth had proceeded quite so far. Had the Hagarene 
conquerors chosen to locate their capital in 'All's Kufa rather than in 
Mu'awiya's Damascus, their chances of creating a new civilisation would 
therefore have been very much less. In the first place, Iraqi culture had 
very definite owners, and the inevitable cultural clientage might easily 
have developed into cultural acceptance : it would have taken a good deal 
of priesdy nerve to present such integral traditions as inherendy Hagarene, 
and even as it was, the rabbis failed to pulverise them completely. 3 1 In the 
second place, Iraq had two incompatible heritages, the Judaic and the 
Indo-European. The Judaic heritage was filtered primarily through Kufa, 
which accordingly specialised in law, bred imamic heresies, and saw a 
resurgence of messianism with Mukhtar; the Indo-European heritage was 
filtered primarily through Basra, which thus specialised in grammar and 
philology, bred Mu'tazilism, and saw a reemergence of Persian ideas of 
kingship on the one hand, 32 and of Persian, Greek and Indian religion 
in the guise of Zandaqa 33 and Sufism on the other. Hence even if the 
Hagarenes had proved able to withstand the strains of the cultural client- 
age, they could hardly have avoided those of the cultural conflict— as indeed 
they did not when Kufa and Basra eventually came together in Baghdad. 
And had the drama of Ibn Hanbal and Ma'mun been enacted after the 
second rather than the fourth civil war, the embryonic religious identity 
of the conquerors might well have disintegrated altogether, leaving the 
Hagarenes to disappear sooner or later as Jews and Christians. Even as it 
was, the conflict was to leave a disharmony which became a permanent 
feature of Islam. The outcome of the first civil war was thus of major 
cultural significance : it was because a nazirite Syria sheltered the Hagarenes 
from the metropolitan tradition in their own metropolis that they avoided 
the cultural clientage, and because a Christian Syria presented only one 
truth that they evaded the cultural conflict. For a century "the Hagarenes 
thus received their culture, Iraqi and other, in small doses at the hands of 
the Syrians; and since they used the shelter this provided to entrench their 
own religious identity, the issue in 'Abbasid Iraq was no longer the fate of 
Hagarism, but that of civilisation. 

The effect of the 'Abbasid promotion of Iraq to metropolitan status was 


The cultural expropriation of the Fertile Crescent 

thus the outbreak of a greatly increased level of cultural conflict among a 
much more distinctive set of cultural protagonists: the pluralistic situa- 
tion, in other words, that was to wreak such havoc with the religious 
allegiances of the non- Muslim elites. The interconfessional rumpus over the 
status of oral tradition is in this respect paradigmatic : ' Anan b. David and 
Abu Hamfa discussing law in the caliph's prison 34 are matched by 
Theodore Abu Qurra and the doctors discussing religion at the caliph's 
court 35 and by the Shu' ibis discussing culture with the caliph's vizier. 36 
But at the same time these proceedings took place within very definite 
constraints. On the one hand there was now a limit to the liberty that 
could be taken with the Judaic heritage: there could thus no longer be 
any doubt that Islam had to find its religious embodiment as a revealed, 
all-embracing law of a Judaic type, and the 'Abbasids accordingly gave 
recognition to the rabbis instead of attempting to codify an imperial law. 37 
But on the other hand there was also a limit beyond which they could not 
attempt to dispense with the Indo-European heritage : there could not thus 
as yet be much doubt that Islam had to find its political embodiment in a 
unitary empire of a Persian type, and the 'Abbasids therefore borrowed 
Sasanian court etiquette instead of withdrawing into the ghetto. But if 
these two basic constraints could be taken as given, their mutual incom- 
patibility meant that their consequences could not. And the crux of the 
matter lay in the ambiguous position of the Muslim rabbis as rabbis by 
conquest. Having left the ghetto, they could not simply reject the one 
heritage for the other in the manner of the Jews ; but having done so as 
conquerors rather than missionaries, they could not simply conflate the 
two in the manner of the Christians. Instead, they were placed with the 
dispositions of rabbis in an environment in which a mass of foreign material 
was pressing for cultural acceptance, and some of it they had to accept if 
only to give substance to their own parvenu tradition. 

We may begin with the most successful case of rabbinical assimilation, the 
fate of Roman law. A legal order may for our purposes be thought of in 
terms of a pyramid : the most abstract definition of the order corresponds 
to the apex, the mass of details and particulars to the base, while in the 
middle we have a layer at once less elevated and less particular in which 
the characteristic structures and procedures of the order are lodged. Roman 
law thus consisted, in descending order, of a category of 'civil law', a 
science of jurisprudence, and a mass of substantive law. Now if the 
Muslim rabbis were neither to accept nor reject the pyramid as a whole, 
they had to dismande it; and for this operation it was the middle of the 
pyramid that was crucial. For if the rabbis could knock out the Roman 
middle and replace it with a jurisprudential theory of their own, it became 


The collision 

possible for them to transform civil into holy law: on the one hand they 
could substitute the will of God for the category of civil law at the apex; 
and on the other they could reshape the substantive law at the base to 
present it as the elaboration of the will of their God and the peculiar 
treasure of their nation. 3 * 

In effecting this transformation the Muslim rabbis were greatly assisted 
by two circumstances. In the first place, the Arabs acquired their paradigm 
from the Jews at an early stage : by the time Abu Hanifa and 'Anan are 
alleged to have met in the caliph's prison, the Hagarenes were already 
approaching the end of their religious clientage to the Jews. In the second 
place, the foreign pyramid was unusually brittle: for unlike the law of 
Syria, that of Nestorian Iraq had been politically divorced from its Roman 
matrix. The result was that Roman jurisprudence virtually disappeared. The 
Nestorians accepted the civil law of Roman emperors because they were 
Christians, and obeyed the public law of Persian emperors because they 
were their subjects; but the only theory of law that could engage their 
conceptual interest was a theory of Christian law. Jurisprudence thus 
tended to be reduced to Christian principles, while civil law slid towards 
canon law and public law became an acceptance of the executive justice 
of the state. Put one way, this meant that the Nestorians in their Persian 
ghetto had come as close as the heirs of Pauline antinomianism could do to 
a rabbinic law ; put another way, it meant that the relationship between the 
apex and the base of the legal pyramid had become shaky in the extreme. 
At the same time the divorce of Nestorian law from the Roman polity 
affected the character of the base itself. The substantive law of the 
Nestorians was losing its Roman stamp, partly through the long-standing 
transfer to canon law, and partly through the continuing adulteration of 
civil law with Persian practice. In sum, where the Roman law of Syria 
had retained an integral and hence resistant shape, in the Nestorian case 
it was relatively easy for the Muslims to insert their own paradigm in the 
middle and to pulverise a substantive law which had already been soft- 
ened up at the base. 39 There thus emerged the characteristic shape of 
Islamic law : the will of God at the apex, mediated through a jurispru- 
dential theory revolving around the notion of a Prophetic law, and 
issubg at the base in a welter of materials from the earlier legal systems 
of the Middle East ground down into an unstructured mass of over- 
whelmingly Prophetic traditions. There was nothing in the operation to 
prevent the resurfacing of a fair amount of Roman law ; but the category 
itself was stopped dead at the frontier. In the word qanun the civil law 
of the Romans stood condemned as foreign profanity; and the point 
was underlined by projecting the origins of Islamic law into inner 
Arabia. 40 


The cultural expropriation of the Fertile Crescent 

The Greek tradition was altogether less amenable than the Roman to this 
kind of treatment. The concepts of philosophy could not be pulverised 
because their very essence was their structure. But equally concepts as such 
are necessarily suspect to rabbis: epistemologically because they are 
impersonal, socially because they are elitist, and ethnically because they 
are foreign. To this extent, of course, the situation of Greek philosophy was 
no different from that of Roman jurisprudence. But in the first place, the 
Greek tradition had a very different centre of gravity. Jurisprudence 
cannot aspire to be more than the handmaiden of substantive law; but in a 
Greek context substantive science was unmistakably subordinate to philo- 
sophy. So the rabbis could not conceivably have knocked out or reshaped 
the middle to appropriate the pyramid: to have done so would simply 
have destroyed it. And in the second place, even had it been possible for 
them to knock out the middle, their Judaic heritage could not and did 
not provide a replacement. There was at least an implicit Judaic theory of 
the nature of law, but the Judaic theory of the nature of nature was simply 
a monotheism which deleted the category altogether. So the rabbis had 
either to grasp the conceptual netde or thrust it from them : to combine their 
scripture with philosophy to generate a conceptual theology in which God 
and concepts were conflated, or to set their scripture against philosophy 
in the hope of destroying it outright. And since they could not take it, they 
rejected it. 

But if the point of the Greek pyramid had of necessity to be lost on the 
rabbis, there remained the possibility of salvaging the substantive science 
at its base. For if the operations of the divine will in matters of law were 
amenable to monotheist jurisprudence, there was no reason in principle 
why its operations in matters of matter should not prove amenable to 
monotheist science. Between a Hellenic assertion of natural law which 
sent God into causal occlusion, and a Judaic assertion of God's will 
which reduced causality to the vagaries of his moods, there remained a 
certain middle ground : one could reasonably ask of the deity that he 
should form a set of dependable habits, a 'sunna of God' in the happy 
phrase of the Koran. The Muslims could thus honour their Judaic heritage 
by keeping their universe as empty of natural law as their polity was of 
civil law; but equally, they could escape the derangement of a thorough- 
going voluntarism by transforming the pagan medicine of the Greeks 
into me Prophetic medicine of Islam. 41 

But the attempt was a failure, and this for two obvious reasons. In the 
first place, there was no available Judaic paradigm — which left the 
Muslims with the added onus of having to invent it for themselves. In the 
second place, the link between philosophy and substantive science was too 
close for comfort. Had the Muslims excavated the dogged empiricism of 


The collision 

the Hippocratic tradition by clearing away the subsequent accretions of 
pneumatic theory, they would have found themselves with a mass of 
particulars easy to reassemble under the aegis of the sutma of God; but it 
was in seventeenth-century Europe, not ninth-century Islam, that this 
excavation was effected, and the link between medicine and its philo- 
sophical metatheory was thus to all appearances intrinsic. And what was 
true of medicine was true a fortiori of astrology : if the Muslims could not 
isolate Hippocrates, still less could they extricate the empirical data of 
the cuneiform tablets from the pervasive theoretical interpretations of the 

Because the Greek tradition could not be processed epistemologically, 
it was equally impossible to present it in a manner that was ethnically in- 
offensive. Its ethnicity could of course be played down. Concepts are by 
nature cosmopolitan, and history had done much to bring this out : shorn 
of its polity by the Macedonians, of its gods by the Jews, and of its 
language by the Syrian translators, the philosophical tradition had been 
as effectively extricated from its Greek matrix as had Nestorian law 
from its Roman equivalent. Greek philosophy, as Jahiz apdy insisted, was 
neither Roman nor Christian ; 42 and it is to this extent appropriate that we 
have in Biruni a Muslim Chorasmian who puts forward a Stoicising 
defence of Indian idolatry. 43 But if the fact that concepts arc above the 
particular made it easy for them to travel, it also made them hard to 
nationalise. If philosophy was in principle 'common to all nations and 
sects', 44 there was by the same token nothing to make it peculiarly Arab — 
which was the old Syrian dilemma. 45 At most one might attempt to assert 
an author's copyright — which was the old Chaldean dilemma. But while 
a fifteenth-century Greek nationalist like Plethon could make this move 
on his home ground, 46 it would have taken considerable nerve to set out 
similar claims on behalf of the Arabs. There is one rather suggestive intima- 
tion of such a tactic: Farabi's theory that philosophy originated in 
Mesopotamia 47 had the effect of conferring on it the status of a sort of 
'philosophy of Abraham'. But the ethnic detour of philosophy could then 
hardly have been said to have terminated with Muhammad, and the 
tactic of ethnic appropriation stood no real chance of success. And if 
philosophy could not be Arab, that left it as not so much ethnically neutral 
as straightforwardly alien. Philosophy was accordingly pilloried as a 
tradition so oudandish that the names of its greatest men were un- 
pronounceable gibberish on the tongues of the true believers; 48 and 
conversely, it could expect none of the tolerance which the poetry of pagan 
Arabia, for all its irreligious fatalism, could call upon because it was Arab. 49 

The rabbinic rejection of philosophy was thus both epistemological and 
ethnic. Its results are not far to seek: they can be subdy detected in the 


The cultural expropriation of the Fertile Crescent 

differing syncretic gradients faced by the sixth-century Christian 
Philoponus and the ninth-century Muslim Kind! in their attempts to give 
philosophical explications of religious dogma; 50 or they can be crudely 
parodied in the pronouncement of a Sunni jurist of the thirteenth century 
that Islam had, thank God, no need of logic whatever, and that philosophers 
should accordingly be offered the choice of Islam or the sword. 51 And if 
the consolidation of Islamic values did not in practice eliminate Hellenism 
in quite so dramatic a fashion, its enemies did at the level of principle make 
a drastic attempt to kill both physics and metaphysics by resorting to the 
Greek tradition itself: the atoms of Democritus are exactly sands upon the 
Red sea shore in the doctrine of Islamic occasionalism. 52 The idea of a 
Christian philosophy may perhaps be considered fruitfully problematic; 
but the notion of an Islamic philosophy, as the Ottoman rabbis of the 
nineteenth century righdy observed, is a contradiction in terms. 53 Against 
the discouraging background of this persistent religious hostility, the 
history of Islamic philosophy was long and not unimpressive. But if the 
erosion of its status was slow, it was also relendess. The sciences of the 
ancients were progressively reduced to a sort of intellectual pornography, 
and the elite which had cultivated them to a harrassed and disreputable sub- 
culture. 54 The Hellenistic Carthaginian Hasdrubal may have found no 
place for philosophy in his own country, but he could at least leave it for 
academic respectability in Athens; 55 but when Hayy b. Yaqzan found 
himself similarly out of place in Islam, his only course was to return to his 
desert island. 56 

The fates of Roman law and Greek philosophy were thus in the last 
resort symmetrical. In the case of law the conceptual shape was success- 
fully removed, so that the formless mass of details could be repackaged as 
indigenous products through attribution to the Prophet or to a normative 
tribal past; in the case of philosophy the concepts refused to go, with the 
result that the entire pyramid failed to change its cultural identity in transit 
and retained the stamp of its origin by way of stigma. The philosophy of 
antiquity stood condemned as falsafa just as its law stood condemned as 
qanun; but unlike substantive law, substantive medicine never acquired 
any sanctity. Roman law was denatured, while Greek philosophy failed to 
be naturalised; but either way their fates were unhappy. 

The culture of the Shu'ubls at the caliph's vizier's was overwhelmingly, 
though not exclusively, Persian. Their central value was a political para- 
digm which we can again present in pyramid form: a notion of dynastic 
kingship at the apex, an aristocratic order of society in the middle, and a 
science of statecraft at the base. Here, of course, wc have relatively litde 

to do with abstract and cosmopolititan concepts: the Persian order of 


The collision 

society represented a metropolitan tradition too intimately linked with 
its ethnic and religious matrix to have stood in much need of theoretical 
articulation. The link was not of course indissoluble : as the Persian Mazdak 
had been able to reject the Iranian social order in the name of Zoroaster, 
so likewise the Aramean Christians had been able to accept it in the name 
of Christ. The Nestorians could not do for the Iranian tradition what they 
had done for the Roman; but the tradition which the Arabs encountered 
in Iraq was at least in principle capable of being desanctified and deethni- 
cised. In principle, then, it might have been possible for the barbarian 
conquerors to accept the Iranian heritage on the ground that, though not 
intrinsically Islamic, it represented civilisation in a form not incompatible 
with Islam. But in practice, the Hagarene fusion of truth and identity 
meant that Persian culture would be rejected on the ground that it was 
not Arab, just as the Arab past would be sanctified even when manifestly 
not Islamic. 

The reaction of the gentile Muslims took the form of a desperate 
series of attempts to extricate Islam from its Arab integument. Khirijism 
was one of the earliest religious expedients to be used in this way ; but 
though Kharijism could be employed to desanctify the Arab ethnicity, it 
was hardly a suitable vehicle for the sanctification of civilisation." 
Accordingly it gave way to Zandaqa, a Muslim Manichaeism which 
attempted to desanctify both the Persian and Arab ethnicities to combine 
the culture of the one with the religion of the other; but inasmuch as 
Manichaeism was formally hostile to both matter and monotheism, its 
chances of success in this venture were slight. So as the trickle of converts 
turned into a flood, Manichaeism in turn gave way to Shu'ubism, the 
movement of gentile Muslims which sought legitimation for their civilisa- 
tion by arguing without recourse to heresy that Islam had been gentile 
from the very beginning. 58 The uniform pressure of Arab Islam on gentile 
civilisation thus generated men who for all the variety of their religious 
tactics shared the same cultural strategy. We have the Kharijite Abu 
'Ubayda, who formally committed himself to a puritan ideal of political 
power in order to advocate a Persian ideal of crowned authority; 59 the 
Manichean Ibn al-Muqaffa', an Iranian noble for whom civilisation was of 
immense antiquity, 60 and who as a client to the Arabs set out to educate his 
barbarian masters to be its guardians, teaching them table manners, 
turning their language into a sophisticated vehicle of literary expression, 
volunteering a programme for transforming their religion into a pliant 
imperial creed, 61 only to meet his death under torture at the age of thirty- 
six; 62 or the Shu'ubis at large who, cornered by an intransigent religion, 
desperately pointed out that, for God's sake, all civilisation was gentile, 
be it the Pharaohs, the Nimrodids, the Caesars or the Shahanshahs, the 


The cultural expropriation of the Fertile Crescent 

poets, the philosophers or the prophets before Muhammad, all of whom 
the gentiles had produced in the course of building the civilisations of 
mankind while the Arabs were still eating lizards in their desert.* 3 
JjSrtiether we take our stand on the Kharijitc piety of Abu 'Ubayda, the 
aristocratic dignity of Ibn al-Muqaffa', or the sneers, the boasting, the 
ridicule and the abuse of the Shu'vibi chorus, the substance of the message 
was the same: Islam was a religion for all nations. 64 Only the Hagarene 
fusion of religious meaning with the violent force of the conquests doomed 
this gigantic effort to failure: if Islam is no longer quite an Arab religion, 
the very intensity of Shu'ubl emotions, the prolonged duration of their 
struggle, and the abusive connotations of the term shu'ubtyya in modern 
times, show clearly enough that the Shu'ubis were not the heroes of Islam 
but its victims. 65 

It was therefore not enough that Persian culture was not incompatible 
with Islam: it had to be made intrinsically Islamic. And since this was a 
feat which only the esoteric wisdom of priests could perform, and which the 
'Abbasids in fact failed to accomplish, the residual fate of the Persian 
tradition was left in the hands of the rabbis. To the rabbis the tradition was 
suspect on two counts. In the first place it could never become intrinsic- 
ally Arab. To some extent, however, this alienncss was offset by the fact 
that in due course the Persians became Muslims; and the ethnic tag of the 
Persian legacy thus lost much of the stigma retained by that of the Greeks. 
To this extent it became possible to acknowledge the Persian origin 
of minor items in Islamic civilisation without undue embarrassment.* 6 
But in the second place the Persian legacy was incompatible, not perhaps 
with Islam as such, but certainly with Islam in its rabbinic form. The 
rabbinical analogue to the Persian pyramid could only consist of God, an 
unstructured laity, and a revealed law. The King of Kings thus usurped 
the place of the Muslim God ; and though the priests could adopt the 
substance of the royal tradition without its name as intrinsically Muslim, 
the rabbis could only reject it as inherently ungodly.* 7 Similarly there was 
no way in which the rabbis could be brought to accept an aristocratic order 
offsbciety which threatened the direct relationship between God and the 
individual believer; the only aristocratic category the rabbis could legiti- 
mate was descent from the Arabian Prophet. Finally there was no para- 
digm 'the rabbis could insert to salvage the base of the pyramid : as a 
purely religious nobility the descendants of the Prophet could no more be- 
came the bearers of a pulverised Iranian statecraft than a purely religious law 
could contain the detritus of a splintered empire. The result was accordingly 
a variant on the legacy of the Greeks: the whole pyramid came in and 
survived, battered and mauled, but neither denatured nor naturalised. 68 
The Variation arises from the fact that whereas philosophy could 


The collision 

eke out a more or lesss tenuous existence between Muslim rabbis and 
Turkish mamluks as long as there were Muslim secretaries, the low degree 
of theoretical articulation characteristic of the aristocratic idea meant 
that it could scarcely survive the physical disappearance of the aristocratic 
houses. Daduya al- Mubarak lost his aristocratic rank to become a mere 
fiscal instrument whom Hajjaj could freely cripple; the son of the cripple, 
Ibn al-Muqaffa', could still nurse his aristocratic ideals as a mere secretary 
whom the caliph could freely execute. But the grandson of the cripple, who 
survived unscathed to die a natural death, left neither aristocratic heirs nor 
aristocratic ideals behind: he consoled himself instead with the eternal 
truths of Greek philosophy which he translated for the 'Abbasid court. 69 
Hence, where the rabbis had to fight an unending, if patendy winning 
batde against Greek philosophy, the middle of the Iranian pyramid 
simply caved in for good. Without a middle of their own to provide the 
paradigm, the rabbis could not denature and so naturalise Iranian state- 
craft as they had Roman law; but equally, without its crucial middle, the 
Iranian pyramid could at least be tolerated as the Greek could not. We 
thus have the remains of the Persian order of society in its Sunru rehashing 
as God, kings and statecraft, which simply coexisted with the Sunni order 
of God, laity and holy law, without being either legitimated or gready 
resisted. The dynastic legitimation of the Persian kings having been broken 
by a wilful God to produce an occasionalist politics, 70 the kings could 
remain with a certain instrumental legitimacy, just as their science could 
hang on as a profane armoury of statecraft. 

In so far as Islamic civilisation may be defined as what was left after 
antiquity had been ground through a rabbinic mill, there could only be two 
significant exceptions to the general reduction of the alternatives to 
pulverisation or rejection. Both mysticism and art lay all but completely 
outside the rabbinic domain of definition, and both could therefore be left 
to develop relatively undisturbed by the struggle between 'Abbasid 
priests and Babylonian rabbis. 

Mysticism was of course suspect to the rabbis to the extent that its 
practice was directed towards bridging the gap between man and God; 
and it was anathema to them to the extent that its theory replaced the 
excised mystery of Christianity with the imported monism of India. 11 
But in the first place, though potentially rivals, the mystic and legal 
approaches to God tended to be complementary rather than mutually 
exclusive; and so long as the mystics refrained from flaunting an un- 
reserved monism in public, the Muslim rabbis could simply coexist with 
them in the manner of their Jewish peers. In the second place, the potential 
rivals came to need each other in Islam. Had the Muslims lived out their 


The cultural expropriation of the Fertile Crescent 

legalistic piety in an epistemological ghetto, it is quite possible that the 
coexistence would have remained as uneasy as it was in the days of Abu 
Yaad al-Bistami or the notorious Hallaj. But as it happened the rabbis 
were threatened by the impersonal laws and categories of Greek philo- 
sophy to the point where they had themselves to employ impersonal 
concepts to defend the personal will of their God; and as the concepts 
pushed the God into extreme otherworldly distance without establishing 
regular this-worldly laws, it was the mystic pursuit of the face of God 
rather than the empirical study of his acts which suggested itself as a 
complement to the pious reading of his words. Sufism and its contents did 
not therefore elicit an automatic rabbinical rejection. But equally, 
because Sufism developed outside the rabbinic domain of definition, it did 
not need to resort to the same systematic pulverisation of the elements 
that went into it. The Sufis did not go so far as to give unembarrassed 
acknowledgement of their dependence on foreign sources in the manner of 
the 'Christian philosophers' of Nestorian Iraq; and conversely they did 
retroject some of their borrowings into Arabia. 72 But on the whole, 
Sufism represents a case of genuine Islamic syncretism. 

Art, unlike Sufism, was merely a practice. On the one hand it had 
ceased to be in any organic relationship with theory : the Greek concepts 
of aesthetics had long been the concern of philosophers rather than 
artists. And on the other it was in no positive relationship with the 
Judaic God : the aesthetic content of monotheism reduced to the prohibi- 
tion of graven images. So after the Umayyads had exercised their priesdy 
discretion in this matter by filling their summer palaces, and indeed the 
Dome of the Rock, with a wealth of very pleasant images, the rabbis did 
in fact step in to pulverise art by enforcing the monotheist prohibition ; and 
to this extent the Greek scroll reduced to the arabesque is the precise 
equivalent of Roman law reduced to Prophetic traditions. But beyond this 
point the analogy does not apply : the prohibition of graven images was no 
paradigm for a Prophetic art ; and once it had been enforced against the 
artists, the domain of art no more interested the rabbis than it threatened 
them. Art in Islam thus remained a mere craft, the work of architects, 
decorators and ornamenters. And because there is no Muslim theory of 
art, no usul of the arabesque, neither the arabesque nor other artistic forms 
had to be repackaged as indigenous Arab products. 73 There was accord- 
ingly nothing to prevent a cross-breeding of foreign artistic forms, any- 
more than there was anything to prevent the cross-breeding of foreign 
plants, in the Muslim world; and to this extent art, like mysticism, escaped 
the alternatives of pulverisation or rejection. 

Yet the negative force of all these cases remains the same: Islam could 


The collision 

naturalise only by denaturing. Whether the foreign goods were accepted or 
rejected, the Muslims acknowledged only one legitimate source of their 
cultural and religious ideals : the Arabia of their Prophet. For barbarians 
who had conquered the most ancient and venerable centres of human 
civilisation, this is a tour de force without parallel in history; but by the 
same token the fate of civilisation in Islam could only be an exceptionally 
unhappy one. In the last resort it was the fusion of Judaic meaning with the 
force of Arab conquest on the one hand, and the extreme cultural aliena- 
tion of the Syrians on the other, that determined both why and what 
Islamic civilisation had to be. Unlike the Arian Goths, the Hagarenes were 
not destined to disappear into the culture they had conquered. And yet as 
conquerors they could not sustain the concrete character of their 'life 
apart' in either the desert or the ghetto. The outcome was a new civilisa- 
tion. But just as Gothic Arianism was not enough, so also Hagarism was 
too much. Hagarism had been built to keep its distance from the Canaanite 
culture it had conquered ; and the distance that had served initially to 
prevent the absorption of Hagarism into civilisation was still there to 
obstruct the absorption of civilisation into Hagarism. Equally, just as 
plural Iraq was too much, so also nazirite Syria was too little. The Syrians 
had distanced themselves from the Canaanite culture they inhabited ; and 
the distance which had served initially to prevent the absorption of the 
Syrians into Hellenism went to reinforce the intransigence of Hagarism. 

Enkidu had once been seduced by a temple prostitute to quite his wilder- 
ness for civilisation; and for all its costs, the civilisation of Sumeriahad 
been worth it. It was to that extent right and proper that the exodus of 
Nabonidus to Yathrib was at best a cultural idiosyncracy, 74 and it would 
have been an appropriate corollary had Marwan II spent his time in 
Harran in the study of ancient wisdom. But by the seventh century after 
Christ the temples had been denuded of their prostitutes : it was mono- 
theism that seduced the Arabs into leaving their wilderness, and the 
civilisation of Syria had lost its power to tempt. Instead the Arab exodus 
from the desert in the name of a Hagarised Judaism intersected with the 
Syrian attempt to retrieve one in a gentile Judaism. The result was a 
civilisation; but it was a civilisation haunted by the desert and the ghetto. 
In so far as the Arabs were haunted by the ghetto, they were, like the 
Jews and the pagans, the mourners of a lost past. But where the Jews 
mourned their Zion and the pagans their Chaldea, the Arabs by the waters 
of Babylon were the mourners of a wilderness. 

1 06 

1 1 


Islamic civilisation in the Fertile Crescent was the outcome of the inter- 
action between the conquerors and the conquered. Elsewhere, by contrast, 
the new civilisation was itself one of the parties to the interaction. The 
bargains which the Syrians and the Iraqis struck with an intransigent 
religion created a civilisation which was in some measure a product of 
their particular cultural needs. But the rest had to come to terms, not just 
with an intransigent religion, but with an intransigent civilisation in the 
shaping of which they played no part. And in these harsher conditions they 
understandably contributed less and suffered more. 

The most dramatic instance of the latter is the fate of the Iranian 
tradition in its ethnic homeland. Iran had been everything that Syria was 
not, and it takes little imagination to see that what was a blessing in 
disguise for the one was an undisguised misfortune for the other. Where 
Syria was a province, Iran was an empire; where Syria lacked an identity 
to the point of standing in need of tribal conquerors, the Iranians had an 
ethnicity fused with a truth in the experience of resisting tribal incursion; 
where the Syrians could come to see the Arabs as redeemers, the Iranians 
could perceive only a returning Turan with an alien God; where the 
Syrians could rebuild their ruin of bricks as an Arab edifice, the Iranian 
edifice was carved from a single rock and could only be taken or left. The 
Muslims of course could neither take it nor leave it; but just as they failed 
ito reduce the Palace of Khusraw to bricks for an impeccably Muslim 
building, 1 so also they failed to reduce Persia to an impeccably Muslim 

6 r The magnitude of the catastrophe which hit Iran can be set out against 
the more subde background of Greece and India, which like Iran repre- 
sented metropolitan traditions, and to which Iran was itself related. The 
Indians possessed a tradition in which a plurality of indigenous elements 
coexisted without integration; 2 while the Greek evolution had issued in a 
-tradition in which a plurality of heterogeneous elements coexisted in 
historically shallow integration. So that if India may be compared to 
profuse carvings up and down a single rock, Byzantium was by contrast 
i single edifice built with a diversity of bricks. When subject to Islamic 
;§.!.■■ 107 

The collision 

conquest, the Indians and the Greeks were thus in something of the same 
boat as against the Iranians : on the one hand, their traditions were less 
likely than that of Iran to reemerge as integral identities within Islam ; 
while on the other, individual elements of their traditions stood a better 
chance of piecemeal absorption or accommodation. 

At the same time, this difference between the traditions was powerfully 
reinforced by the differing tempo of conquest. Where Iran was conquered 
in its entirety in the seventh century, the Greeks and the Indians escaped 
this fate until much later. The Greeks of the Byzantine territories which 
went down to the Arab invaders were a thin stratum of the population; 
the Indians of Sind may have been denser, but it was a small and oudying 
province. Even the more thorough-going conquests of the Turks left un- 
conquered Byzantine and Hindu states into the fifteenth or sixteenth 
centuries. And because these traditions survived for so long outside 
Islam, there was correspondingly less pressure on them to resurface in an 
integral form within it. 

It was thus possible for Islam in the lands of the Greeks and 
Indians to tolerate popular religion while absorbing elite concepts. On 
the one hand, orthodox Islam had no doubts about the propriety of 
tolerating Christianity — a different religion but the same God — and 
could argue itself into a grudging tolerance of Indian idolatry and the 
social system that went with it. And on the other hand, the Muslims 
could extricate the concepts of the Greeks and Indians from their 
ethnic matrices much as the Iranians appear to have done before 
them. At the same time, no integral Greek or Indian identity resurfaced 
in Islam. There was no restoration of a Muslim Byzantium, 3 let alone of 
Muslim Guptas; there was no Greek or Indian Shu'ubism; there was no 
Indian Companion of the Prophet, and his Greek Companion, $uhayb, 
appropriately lost his ethnic nerve to seek comfort in a spurious Arab 
genealogy. 4 And when eventually the Greeks of Anatolia entered the 
Islamic world, they did so not as Muslim Greeks but as Muslim Turks; 
while the Muslims of India have recendy done their best to follow in the 
footsteps of the Greek $uhayb. 

The Iranian case was very different. Iran was swallowed whole at an 
early stage in the history of the Islamic expansion. The remnants of the 
Byzantine armies had Byzantium to retreat to; the Asawira ended up in 
Basra as the allies of the conquerors. 5 There might be Iranian princes in 
China 6 and Iranian merchants in India; but they were small-scale com- 
munities of refugees. Despite the massive and early Median rebellion 
chronicled by Scbeos, 7 there remained no vast seas of unsubjugated 
territory in which the integral tradition could persist untouched by Islam. 
The Iranians had to make it inside the Islamic world or not at all. 

1 08 

The intransigence of Islamic Civilisation 

The result was head-on collision. If the core of Hellenism was its 
concepts, they could to some extent be borrowed; if the core of Hinduism 
was its castes, they could to a great extent be left alone. Homo pbilosopbicus 
was rather too elevated, and homo hierarchies rather too close to the 
grass-roots, for either to be hit by Islamic conquest where it hurt most; 
both concepts and castes being somewhat marginal to the ground on 
which Islam is most densely defined. But in the case of Iran no oblique 
accommodation of this kind was conceivable. The God of the Aryans 
was as much the fatalis genius* of his people as the God of Israel. In 
Achaemcnid times of course Israel had known its place, and relations 
between the two Gods had been amicable enough.' But when the 
Ishmaelites expropriated the God of Israel and set out to conquer the world 
with him, there was little to hold his exaggerated jealousy in check. The 
stakes on each side were an identity in which ethnicity, religion and 
polity were fused under the aegis of a single tutelary deity: Byzantium 
might be taken to pieces, but Iran could only be smashed. 

In setting out the outcome of this collision, we may begin with the 
polity. On the one hand, we have in Iran a polity with a strong intrinsically 
religious status : din and dawla, religion and state, were twins. Twinship 
is not of course the same thing as the identity of din and dawla which 
characterises the Islamic concept of the imamate; but it is a far more 
intimate relationship than that which obtained in Byzantium, where 
Judaic din and Roman dawla were not even blood-relations. And on the 
other hand, we have a conquering faith in which the polity was likewise 
intrinsically religious in status. Christianity was in general as happy to 
anoint the Woden-begotten kinglets and rots thaumaturges of the peoples 
it converted as it had earlier been pleased to recognise the Roman 
emperor. 10 Even in the case of conquest Christianity, there was no intrin- 
sically religious reason why Christian conquistadors should not respect 
the vestigial polities of their subjects; 11 while even in the case of barbarian 
Christianity, there was no intrinsically religious reason why the Christian 
barbarians should not revive a Holy Roman Empire. Not so in Islam. In 
a few oudying areas the Muslim conquistadors did, it is true, accept the 
continuance of the traditional principalities: witness the protectorate 
exercised over the native dynasty of Usrushana. 12 Equally in a few oudying 
areas the native polities eventually reemerged out of such protectorates in 
Islamic guise : witness the Khwarizmshahs. 13 But there was litde prospect 
of such a development in Iran. 

So after the failure of the initial attempts at restoration, the tradition 
of the Zoroasrrian polity was isolated in the mountains of Daylam. In due 
course the turn of the Daylamites came, and the Buyids, like the Parthians 
a millennium before them, claimed descent from the fallen dynasty and 


The collision 

revived their title of 'King of Kings'. 14 That this Muslim dynasty should 
have taken this step is a striking testimony to the Iranian determination to 
survive in Islam rather than not at all. But though the Daylamites were 
willing to drop their hostility towards Islam for a 'Holy Persian Empire', 1 5 
the Muslims were not willing to accept it; and the residue of the Buyid 
adventure was a contribution to Muslim titulature rather than any deeper 
sense of continuity with Sasanid Iran. 

In terms of religion the virtual demise of Zoroastrianism is a dramatic 
index of the impact of Islam and the totality of its conquest. There is today 
a Christian country of Greece and a Hindu country of India; but the 
Zoroastrians are merely a minority. The demise was not of course im- 
mediate: as late as the tenth century there was still a politically live 
survival of the old religion in Daylam, just as there was a doctrinally 
live one in ninth-century Fars; and the prominence of Hellenic categories 
in the ninth-century books and the very existence of a Zoroastrian scrip- 
ture in written form are quite possibly indications of a Zoroastrian capacity 
to adapt to the new environment. 16 But there could be no serious question 
of a religious restoration in Iran: this time the Kings of Kings had no 
Kartir. Who then could the Aryans be when they no longer had the Magi 
for their priests ? 

In the first instance the question was whether something of the old 
religion could be merged with something of Islam by the syncretic 
prophets of the second half of the eighth century. But their success was 
transient: no Iranian Barghawata emerged from the career of Bfliafarid, 
and the expectation of an early Kharijite heretic that God would send 
a new prophet from among the non-Arabs to abrogate the religion of 
Muhammad, 17 however apt an anticipation of twentieth-century Turkey, 
remained unfulfilled in medieval Iran. 

There was thus no choice but to accept the Islamic framework as given, 
and the issue was then whether an Iranian identity could be accommodated 
within it. For reasons which will be set out more fully at a later stage, 
Shi 'ism provided a particularly receptive version of the Islamic frame- 
work. For one thing the infallible imam and the King of Kings were the 
victims of the same Sunni history — and did not Husayn marry a Persian 
princess? 18 And for another, Shi'ite esotericism was a potentially syncretic 
doctrine — and was not the Prophet's Persian Companion a central figure 
in this esotericism? If a contemporary Syriac source for the rebellion of 
Mukhtar insists on the ethnic heterogeneity of his followers and fully 
expects them to overthrow the Arab dominion, 1 ' small wonder that the 
later Carmathians fully accepted the Persian impostor whom they expected 
to overthrow the Arab religion. 20 

The rapprochement between Shi 'ism and Iran was nonetheless a very 

i io 

The intransigence of Islamic Civilisation 

limited one. To a certain extent, this was a matter of historical accident : 
the Buyids having missed their chance, it was not until the rise of the 
Safawids that Shi 'ism was superimposed on the after-image of Sasanid 
Iran; and by this time the structure of Islamic civilisation had set to an 
extent which precluded the development of this external symmetry into 
an internal harmony. Even so, it may be doubted whether it would have 
made much difference if Iran had become a Shi'ite country under the 
aegis of the Buyids. It is of course perfcedy possible for a Shi'ite sea to 
identify itself with a non-Arab ethnicity, as did the Nuqtawis in Iran, 21 
or to assimilate vividly un-Islamic ideas in such a milieu, as did the 
Nizaris in India. But the sort of sect which does this is ipso facto marginal 
to the Islamic scene. Equally, it is perfcedy possible for a non-Arab 
people to adopt a Shi 'ism which is indisputably central in its Islamic 
status, as with the Imamism of modern Iran. But the very centrality of such 
a tradition precludes any very effective articulation of a non-Arab identity. 
Imamism took shape as a learned and respectable heresy in the Sunni 
and Arabic-speaking milieu of urban Iraq, and its leaders, though they 
might prudently flatter a Buyid as 'King of Kings', 22 were no Bektashis 
onto whose faith the gentile excesses of the Nuqtawis or Nizaris could 
have been grafted. 23 

It is of course true that any universal religion has to come to some 
sort of terms with the particular. The point about Islam is that it does so 
only on terms which, from the point of view of an aspiring non-Arab 
nation, are very unfavourable: extreme heresy or popular superstition. 
The cosmology of the Nuqtawis is an example of the first ; the myth where- 
by die Ait Atta Berbers have contrived to bestow an Islamic status on their 
local sacred mountain an example of the second. 24 The Iranians too had 
d»eir superstitions whereby they sought to construct for themselves a 
comfortable ethnic niche in Islam. 25 But since the Iranians were too large 
and too central a people to opt for either the extremism of the Nuqtawis 
pr the ignorant superstition of the Ait Atta, their ethnic particularity of 
necessity remained without adequate articulation in Islam. 26 

Hence the only field in which a lasting resurgence of Iran could take 
place was culture. The culture of pre-Islamic Iran was as religiously 
focusscd as that of Arab Islam. But despite - or because of — the exten- 
sile destruction of the old tradition, there was at least the possibility of 
die resurfacing of a decontaminated Iranian culture in the Islamic world. 

In the first place there was the possibility of an Iranian cultural come- 
back in the language of the conquerors: Shu'ubism. It was a vigorous but 
hopeless movement. When a thousand years earlier Manetho and Berossus 
had rendered the past glories of Egypt and Babylon into the language of 
their Greek conquerors, they had done so as priests, members of an 


The collision 

indigenous elite who were not without a certain honour in the Hellenistic 
world as the repositories of the ancient wisdom of their peoples. But there 
were no mages islamises: in ninth-century Iran a high priest like Manush- 
chihr 27 wrote only in the archaic hieratic language of his own community. 
The restatement of the Iranian heritage in Arabic was thus the work not of 
priests but of renegades. The Iranian mawali were not an entrenched elite 
perpetuating an ancient tradition; they were the despised naturalises of a 
society of tribal conquerors, civilised evolue's to barbarism. Their desertion 
of their own society did not of course mean that they had been decon- 
taminated in the process: scratch a Shu'ubi, they said, and you found a 
Zoroastrian. 28 The point is that Islam had no need to do anything in the 
nature of appealing to the Iranian tradition in such a context; it merely 
absorbed such of its detritus as it cared to. 

In the second place, there was the possibility of creating a provincial 
Iranian culture inside the Islamic milieu. 29 There was no question here 
of a direct continuation of the old tradition: Avestic in Muslim Iran 
had none of the cultural status of Sanscrit in Muslim Java, and the 
continuity of Javanese literature in the indigenous script after the 
reception of Islam finds no parallel in Pahlavi. 30 So the new literary 
language consisted instead of the vernacular written in the Arabic 
script, and its use was initially often merely utilitarian in motive. It 
was however a phenomenon very different from the occasional appear- 
ance of Greek in Arabic script for the purposes of the propagation of 
Islamic knowledge: 91 Persian became an Islamic literary language as 
Greek did not. And having done so, it provided a medium in which 
the Iranian tradition could be made available in Muslim Iran: the 
Shahname became the Koran, 32 or as we might say the Homer, 33 of 
the Iranians. In contrast to the abortive character of the political and 
religious manifestations of Iran in Islam, this cultural resurgence 
proved definitive. And it is a measure of its strength that when in the 
succeeding centuries the Greeks and Indians eventually entered Islam, 
it was as provinces of Iranian, not of Arab Islam that their cultural 
assimilation was effected. 

The remaining provinces within the borders of Islamic conquest — Egypt, 
Spain and North Africa — all acquired impeccable Muslim facades : unlike 
the Fertile Crescent they contributed virtually nothing to metropolitan 
Islam, and unlike Persia they failed to retain a provincial distinctiveness. 
The reasons are not unnaturally to be found behind the facades, and 
they can best be set out as inversions of the cases we have already ex- 

If. we start by looking behind the facade of Muslim Egypt, we are 


The intransigence of Islamic Civilisation 

back with the Copts; and the degree of effacement of Coptic Egypt is in 
some ways surprising. In the first place, the Coptic identity was compar- 
able in strength to those of Iraq ; its initial resilience is strikingly suggested 
by Sebeos, who refers to massive Arab conversions to Christianity in 
Egypt at a time when the political balance of power had momentarily 
changed. 34 Equally the homogenisation of truth had proceeded even 
further in Egypt than in Syria, so that to that extent Egypt might appear 
a suitable locus for the transmission of deethnicised culture. One might 
thus expect to find in Islam a Coptic heritage comparable to that of the 
Nestorians. That this was not so is above all a reflection of the fact that 
the Coptic church was a church of peasants as the Nestorian church was 
one of nobles : Coptic Egypt was in other words a socially inverted Iraq. 
The significance of the inversion is apparent in three ways. 

First, the rusticity of the Coptic church meant that the province con- 
verted slowly. The Copts being accustomed to looking to peasant leaders, 
whether in the village or the monastery, the departure or decline of the 
aristocracy did not affect them as it did the peasants of Assyria; and when 
exposed to the pressure of Arab taxation, they fled from their villages to 
other districts or to monasteries, but not to Arab cities as did the peasants 
of Babylonia. 35 The result was an impressive Coptic resistance to con- 
version; and despite occasional waves of apostasy, 36 it was only after fiscal 
pressure had driven the peasantry at large to rebellion under the early 
'Abbasids that the destruction of village organisation in the ensuing re- 
pression finally cleared the way for the slow but inexorable conversion of 
Egypt to Islam. 37 

Secondly, rusticity meant that the Copts had litde to contribute. Greek 
intellection having failed to be accepted by the Coptic church, the inward- 
turned rusticity of the Coptic masses was matched by an outward-turned 
Alexandria and a Hellenised aristocracy; so that when the latter were cut 
off from the wider Greek world by the Arab conquests, they either de- 
parted or died out. The school of Alexandria eked out a tenuous existence 
for a century before it moved on to Antioch, Harran and finally Baghdad ; 3 8 
Khalid b. Yazid b. Mu' awiya could still get his books on alchemy from 
Greek philosophers in Egypt, 39 and the ninth-century Dhu 1-Nun 
al-Misri was sufficiendy familiar with both the Greek heritage of Alexandria 
and the Christian asceticism of the Egyptian countryside to combine them 
in his Islamic mysticism. 40 But what the Arabs found when they eventually 
opened up the solid ranks of the peasantry was essentially an ethnicity and 
a host of Egyptian saints. Just as Christian Egypt produced no philosophers 
to match the Nestorian literati who inherited the Alexandrian school in 
Baghdad, 41 so Muslim Egypt produced no school of law, 42 no theological 
movement 43 or wealth of poets, let alone a heresy or a political ideal. Only 


The collision 

when the province had acquired a solid Muslim culture from outside did 
it resume its old position of intellectual eminence. 

Thirdly, rusticity meant that Egypt exchanged its distinctive pro- 
vinciality in a Christian heresy for an imitative provinciality in orthodox 
Islam. One might perhaps have expected the Coptic identity to leave 
in Islam at least a residual particularism. But pardy because the steady 
trickle of converts had few chances to mobilise their Coptic resources 
against the ethnic stranglehold of Islam, and more particularly because 
the Coptic identity was as innocent of cultural resources as was Syrian 
culture of ethnic resources, Coptic Egypt left not a rack behind. On the 
one hand there were no Coptic Muslims: Coptic disappeared as a 
spoken language even among Christians, 44 and even in Egyptian 
Arabic its resonances are strikingly weak. 45 And on the other there was 
only the faintest hint of a Coptic after-image. The Egyptians were not 
of course totally without interest in their pre-Islamic past: Pharaoh is 
more in their literature than a Koranic villain. But the Egypt of 
Murtadi 46 and his likes is a descendant of the Egypt of the astro- 
logers, 47 not of the Egypt of the peasants; and the character of this 
genre is essentially a sensationalist antiquarianism, an indulgence in the 
gorgeous palaces and solemn temples of an occult and insubstantial pageant. 
It does perhaps bear the residual traces of a certain Coptic sound and 
fury; 48 but there is nothing in it to compare with the epic remembrance of 
pre-Islamic glory that pervades Firdawsi's Shahname, or the emotional 
depth of Ibn Wabshiyya's invocation of the Babylonian past. A heresy 
of less stubbornly metropolitan ambitions than Isma'Ilism could perhaps 
have saved the residual sound and fury; 49 but the interest of the Fatimids 
in their Egyptian base was confined to the resources it could provide 
them for ventures the meaning of which lay elsewhere. Hence where the 
residual particularism of the Iranian heritage and the accidental particul- 
arity of the Imam! tradition in Iran could be brought into a certain external 
symmetry, Egypt had both lost the residue and escaped the accident. 

The Copts did of course survive as Copts despite their adoption of 
Arabic, and unlike the remnant of Assyria they retained the title deeds to 
their Pharaonic past. But there was little basis in this for the Copts to 
create or participate in a modern Egyptian identity. They were in effect 
exiles in their own country : the willingness of the Copts to ingather their 
Muslim neighbours in the name of Egypt was met by the readiness of the 
Muslims to despatch their Coptic neighbours to Palestine in the name of 
Islam. 50 And the pyramids they had to offer were at best an ambiguous 
asset: Pharaonism in a Muslim Egypt with a Coptic minority was doubly 
damned as contumaceously pagan and constructively Christian. 51 Egypt 
in Islam was not so much a nation or even a country as simply a place. 


The intransigence of Islamic Civilisation 

Hellenistic Egypt dreamt of the retum-of the Pharaohs, and Byzantine 
Egypt might in time have dreamt of restoring the Ptolemies; but Ottoman 
Egypt could dream only of a Mamluk restoration. To the extent that 
Egypt dreamt at all, one could say that it was still a country. But it was a 
country in which the model of Byzantine Egypt had been not so much 
transposed as inverted. Under the Greeks it was the peasant masses who 
had represented the introverted particularism, while the elite had been 
firmly orientated towards the outside world: take away the Apions and 
their aristocratic colleagues, and Egypt was still the residue of Kerne. But 
under the Ottomans it was the elite and not the peasants who represented 
the particularism: take away 'All Bey and his khedivial successors, and 
Egypt became die rump of the United Arab Republic. 

Spain is at first sight a much more puzzling case. For one thing, Roman 
Spain had both an imitative provincial culture with all that implies of 
cultural acceptance, and a Hispano- Roman identity with all that implies 
of ethnic security. For another, Spain was both a very remote province 
in the Muslim world and also, as it happened, a politically dissident one. 
Yet Islamic civilisation presented as impeccably oriental a facade in Spain 
as in Egypt or coastal North Africa. 52 Even the Christians displayed a 
degree of assimilation into Islamic culture that is scarcely parallelled in the 
east, 53 and finds no analogue among the Zoroastrians of Iran: there is no 
such thing as Mozarab Persia. Conversely, Spain provides no parallels to 
the resurfacing of Iran in Islam. There was no move among native Muslims 
to retore a Roman empire or a Gothic kingship, 54 and even the Mozarab 
Christians produced martyrs, 55 not pretenders. Romance, for all its persist- 
ence as a vernacular, never became on Islamic literary language in the 
manner of Persian : the point of the Shahname is its resonant evocation of a 
glorious national past, that of the Romance couplets in the Andalusian 
muwshshahs is precisely their innocence of literary tradition. 56 It is thus 
appropriate that the most striking feature of Spanish Shu'ubism— such as it 
was — should have been its dependence on Iranian models. 57 

There is a similar absence of any religious quest for a Spanish dis- 
tinctiveness within Islam. Spain produced no Bihafarid: the only syn- 
cretic prophet to appear on Spanish soil was a Berber. 58 Nor did Spain 
evince any receptivity towards the heretical, ethnically less constraining 
farms of Islam. 5 9 Even its choice of Sunn! law school tells the same story : 
instead of distinguishing itself as the last refuge of Syrian Awza'ism, Spain 
adopted the most fixatedly metropolitan law school of them all, the 
Malikism of Medina. 60 Equally the distinctiveness of prolonged Umayyad 
role does not seem to have been exploited to set the country apart. Not of 
course that there was anything intrinsically Spanish about the Umayyads — 


The collision 

Qurashi rule was after all something the inhabitants of Spain had in 
common with those of Sind; but even if the Spanish were not inclined to 
become western Marwanites, 61 their Umayyad regime made both for a 
measure of alienation and for a measure of archaism vis-a-vis the metro- 
politan Islamic world: the jund still constituted the foundation of the 
Spanish army long after it had given way to mamluks as far west as 
Ifriqiya. 62 But if Spain was in consequence somewhat different, it made 
not the slightest attempt to elevate the different into the distinctive. The 
Muslims of Spain might tend to lag behind the times, but their willingness 
to bring themselves up to date was not in doubt : Umayyad genealogy was 
no bar to 'Abbasid hairstyles. 63 

Yet it was not as if the Spanish were becoming a solid population of 
Arabised Muslims, as was more or less the case in coastal North Africa. 
There were large numbers of Christians ready to die to flaunt their non- 
Muslim faith, and there were large numbers of Muslims ready to fight to 
vindicate their non-Arab identity. 64 Yet when Ibn Hafsun, the greatest of 
them, sought to give more pointed expression to this non-Arab identity in 
Islam, the only way he could do so was by becoming a Christian. 65 

The key to this situation lies behind the facade in the position of the 
Mozarabs, the group which constitutes the inversion of the Iranian 
mawali: where the Iranian Muslims fought to retain their culture in 
Islam, thus creating a distinctive Irano- Muslim culture, the Spanish 
Christians were happy to extract the culture from Islam, thus creating a 
distinctive Hispano-Christian culture. And the key to this again is evidendy 
the plural character of the Spanish heritage in contrast to that of Iran. In 
the first place, Spain was culturally nothing more or less than a Roman 
province. Pre-Roman Britain had a certain metropolitan cachet as the 
centre of advanced Druidic studies, 66 and post-Roman Britain, in so far as 
it was not Germanic, was straightforwardly Celtic. But there was nothing 
comparable about Spain. Secondly, Spain was an undifferentiated province 
of western Christianity. And thirdly, Spain had undergone Germanic 
conquest. This latter had neither disappeared without trace as in Africa 
nor created a solidly barbarian country as in England; nor yet had it 
issued in an attempt at an integral Gothic identity in the manner of Arab 
Islam. But it did mean that by the time of the Islamic conquest Spain 
possessed a Germanic polity of its own which simply coexisted with the 
wider Spanish membership of Roman culture and western Christendom. 

Superficially, the geography of Islamic conquest then created a situation 
similar to that which arose in Iran : a Spanish Daylam in Las Asturias, 
where the old order took refuge under a line of Gothic pretenders, as 
against a Spanish Firs in Andalusia, where the old religion lived on under 
Muslim rule. But the plurality and character of Spanish allegiances 


The intransigence of Islamic Civilisation 

rendered the potentialities of the two situations very different. In the 
first place, Las Asturias might be the last refuge of Gothic kingship, but 
it had no such significance for Roman culture or western Christianity 
at large. In the long run the best the Daylamites could manage was to turn 
Muslim and restore the King of Kings within an Islamic world they had 
penetrated as mercenaries. But the Christians of Las Asturias had the 
rest of Christian Europe behind them: they had no need of Zaydl mission- 
aries and. proceeded to restore the Roman empire 67 outside an Islamic 
world which they entered by way of reconquista. It was because they had 
something politically distinctive in the shape of the Gothic monarchy that 
the Spanish could reestablish the old order in the mountains; but it was 
equally because the Roman and Christian components of the old order 
were not Spanish but simply European that they could keep hold of all of 
it and ultimately reimpose it on the south. 

In the second place, the same plurality worked out very differently in 
the conditions of the south. Islamic conquest deleted the Gothic polity to 
leave a Roman and Christian province. In terms of religion, those who 
remained Christians now benefited from the lack of intrinsic cultural 
allegiance in Christianity as they had benefited before from its lack of 
intrinsic political allegiance: just as they had been able to accept a Gothic 
kingship without Gothic ethnicity or Arian religion, so now they could 
take Arab culture without Arab ethnicity or Islamic faith. The cultural 
multivalence of Christianity thus combined with the survival of the old 
order beyond the Islamic frontier to enable the Mozarabs to borrow 
without succumbing. Both inside and outside Islam, the zealous provin- 
ciality of the Spanish thus held constant as they switched from a Roman 
to an Islamic metropolis; but whereas the Muslim facade created by 
cultural allegiance to Baghdad was a rather undifferentiated one, the 
Christian backcloth to which it gave rise was necessarily highly unusual. 68 

In contrast to the Copts and the Mozarabs, the Berbers behind the 
facade of Aghlabid Ifnqiya loomed so large in North African history 
that from time to time they broke through to present a facade of their own. 
The Berbers were no one's province. Yet they could not conceivably pass 
as a metropolis in the manner of the Iranians. They were in fact nobody 
to the civilised world, just a marginal barbarian population which pos- 
sessed all the tribes without culture that the cultured Syrians were in need 
of. And in this the people with whom they had most in common was their 
Arab conquerors. Coming up against the Arabs did for the Berbers some- 
thing which the Romans had never done for them: it brought them into 
a confrontation in which the idiom of their opponents could be taken 
over to articulate their own situation. Islam was a din mubin, a plain 


The collision 

religion of tribes and rabbis. Cities, aristocracies, concepts and everything 
characteristic of civilisation require for their smooth functioning a religion 
not easily understood, as the Iranians were eventually proud to describe 
their own; 69 and civilisation suffered accordingly when the tribes and 
rabbis moved in. But the Syrians who were the victims of civilisation and 
the Berbers who had no need of it both stood to gain in their own particular 
ways. The Syrians could not acquire an identity out of the values of 
Graeco-Roman culture while denying that they were Greeks, and the 
Berbers could not articulate one while denying that they were Romans. 
Neither wished to follow the example of the Spanish, who were more 
Roman than the Romans, and where settled Syria attempted a provincial 
synthesis, the Berbers instead elected to remain apart. Unlike the Syrians, 
the Berbers had nothing to contribute and no wish to become Arabs; but 
they understood the tribes and they could use the rabbis, and provided 
they could safeguard their ethnicity against the pull of an Arab Islam, it 
was easy enough for them to articulate an identity in terms of Islamic 
values. They had in any case litde to lose in the process : there was no such 
thing as a consolidated Berber culture, polity and faith. And the richness 
and variety of the Berber presence in Muslim North Africa as contrasted 
with their barbarian anonymity in the days of the Romans provides one 
of the most striking illustrations of the environment in which Islam is most 
truly at home. 

The Berber attempt to articulate an identity in Islamic terms took two 
forms, much as in Iran. The more radical was the development of Berber 
caiques on Arab Islam: Berber prophets came with Berber revelations. 70 
The type ultimately disappeared ; but in one instance it issued in an indepen- 
dent and religiously distinctive Berber polity, Barghawata, which lasted 
into the twelfth century. More moderately, Berber particularism found 
expression in the adoption of heretical forms of Islam. 71 On the one hand 
we have Berber Kharijism, institutionalised above all in the Ibadl imamate 
of Tahart with its Iranian dynasty and Shu'ubl tendencies; 72 and on the 
other we have Berber Shi 'ism in the shape of the Idrisids, the scatter of 
'Alid statelets of the same period, 73 - and the Isma'ilism of the Kutama. 
Again, the phenomenon ultimately more or less disappeared: the Ibadi 
survival in North Africa today is parochial, and the Sharifian sultans, for 
all their 'Alid genealogy, were no Safawids to the Berbers. But the eventual 
victory of Malikism in North Africa was as hard-won as it was initially 
effortless in Spain. 

It is however in the political dimension that the elegance of this shift 
from being different outside Rome to being different inside Islam is most 
apparent. Unlike the Daylamites, the Berbers had no political past to lose 
in Islam, not even a Vandal kingship to take into the mountains. In Daylam 


The intransigence of Islamic Civilisation 

the work of the heretical missionaries was in one way superfluous: to the 
extent that they remembered the Sasanian monarchy, the Daylamites were 
scarcely in need of an Islamic imamate. But the Berbers having no such 
memories, their political ideologies had of necessity to be religious in 
inspiration. To that extent they were in the same predicament as Fasir 
and Axido, the Donatist duces sanctorum who had raised hell in the African 
hinterland in the days of Augustine. 74 Yet the Donatist cause, for all its 
righteousness, could not be an intrinsically political one: Christianity 
has no polity, only an occluded messiah and an emasculated quietism, 
and the Circumcellions had accordingly to fight as back-stage participants 
in an ecclesiastical schism of the coastal cities. 

In this situation the coming of Islam meant a drastic ecological redistri- 
bution of political meaning. In the old days to rule on the coast was to 
represent eternal Rome, whereas to raise the tribes in the interior was to 
be beyond the pale of civilised politics. But in an Islamic perspective this 
contrast was reversed : to rule on the coast was now to represent a pre- 
sumptively illegitimate authority, while to raise the tribes in the hinterland 
was the political work of the saint. So where Fasir and Axido had to coax 
their meaning out of an apolitical coastal schism, Abu 'Abdallah al-Shi'I 
and Abu Yaad took theirs direcdy from the doctrine of the imamate. And 
whereas the Muslim Daylamites issued from their mountains and restored 
the descendants of Ardashir, the Muslim Berbers did so on behalf of the 
family of the Prophet. The intransigence of Islamic civilisation had 
shattered Iran in the east and mopped up the Graeco-Roman provinces in 
the west; but the Berbers were uniquely placed to make this intransigence 
their own. 




The power of Hagarism to reshape the world of antiquity lay in its union of 
Judaic values with barbarian force. Yet for all its power, this fusion of 
truth and identity was marred by an irresolvable tension. The tension was 
an abiding one, but it can best be approached through the contrast between 
two very early accounts of Hagarene attempts to spread their faith. The 
first describes the martyrdom of the Byzantine garrison of Gaza shortly 
after the conquest. The garrison was invited to abandon their faith, deny 
Christ, and participate in the ceremonies of the Saracens ; in return they 
would enjoy the same honour as the Saracens themselves. 1 Fortunately 
for our knowledge of the incident, the garrison stood firm and were 
martyred to a man. 2 The second testimony refers to the arrival of the 
conquerors on Mt Sinai to force the local Saracens to apostatise from 
Christianity. 3 All but one surrendered 4 and left to join the Saracens in their 
religion. The implication is clear that the conquerors displayed not the 
slightest interest in the conversion of the Christian monks. 5 

The disparity between the attitude of the Saracens towards the soldiers 
of Gaza on the one hand and the monks of Sinai on the other can to some 
extent be accounted for in chronological terms. We do not know exacdy 
when the conquerors arrived on Mt Sinai, but it would presumably have 
been some time after the fall of Gaza. It can hardly be doubted that the 
fate of the Gazan garrison, confronted with a choice reserved in classical 
Islam for Arab polytheists, reflects the initial anti-Christian animus of 
Judaeo- Hagarism; while the events on Mt Sinai might be seen in the light 
of the subsequent Hagarene retreat into the ethnically parochial world of 
the religion of Abraham. The other early testimonia on conversion are to 
some degree amenable to the same treatment. There is, however, a more 
analytical way to approach the disparity. Even in the form of Judaeo- 
Hagarism, the new religion was founded in a distinct ethnic identity; 6 
and even in the form of the religion of Abraham, it was still in possession 
of a potentially universal truth. 7 If it made sense to martyr the garrison of 
Gaza in vindication of the truth, it equally made sense to ignore the monks 
of Sinai in the course of realising the identity. And it also made sense to 
be mixed up : it was impossible to maximise truth and identity concurrently. 


The fate of Hagarism 

The more obvious course was doubtless to maximise identity. Hagarism 
was after all a quest for a truth to fit a Hagarene genealogy, 8 and since the 
early Hagarenes were conquerors, not missionaries, there was no occasion 
for the immediate sacrifice of ethnicity which marks the spread of Chris- 
tianity. Hagarism could thus seek to remain an ethnic faith after the manner 
of Judaism, and complain that its proselytes were as hard on Ishmael as 
leprosy. 9 In concrete terms, this was initially a comfortable option. On the 
one hand, it meant that Hagarism paid dividends in terms of the ideological 
consolidation of the ranks of the conquerors. As late as the time of Walid I, 
the Taghlibi chief was martyred on the grounds that it was shameful that 
the chief of the Arabs should adore the cross. 10 And on the other hand, 
the maximisation of identity served at first to keep those non-Arabs who 
threw in their lot with the conquerors firmly in their place, irrespective 
of the truth or otherwise of their religious convictions : even the convert 
who called himself Muhajir was just as much a client as the hanger-on who 
retained his ancestral faith. Thus in both respects Hagarism was an apt 
consecration of the initial structure of the conquest society. 

The idea of a Hagarism in the ethnic image of Judaism was nevertheless 
problematic: in two relevant respects, the Hagarenes were not like the 
Jews. In the first place, if the Hagarenes were a chosen people, their status 
was embarrassingly parvenu. 1 1 In principle they might have resolved this 
difficulty by recasting the entire history of monotheism since Abraham 
to the greater glory of the Ishmaelites, starting with the award of the 
covenant to Ishmael in a Hagarene Pentateuch. 12 In practice of course 
they hadn't the nerve. They were thus in the position of setting up as the 
heirs of the very tradition that had disinherited them, receiving back the 
spirit of prophecy after a disconcertingly prolonged ethnic detour. 13 
But more than this, their parvenu status meant that Hagarism could be 
ethnically exclusive only at the cost of being epistemologically parochial. 
Muhammad had perforce to be presented as the belated founder of a com- 
munity parallel to those of Moses and Jesus; he could not displace them 
or appear as their linear successor. The truth status of Islam had thus to 
be hedged about with the prophetological relativism that is so clear an 
index of its failure, even in its classical form, to become an unreservedly 
universal faith. 14 So the social defense of the Hagarene identity was 
purchased at the cost of the doctrinal down-grading of the Hagarene 
truth. In the second place, the Hagarene identity was not in the long run 
socially defensible; and this for the very reason that the Hagarenes, unlike 
the Jews, were conquerors. The gentile world can be excluded from the 
ghetto because it has in general no wish to enter it, whereas conquerors 
benefit from no such indifference towards entry into their ranks on the part 
of their subjects. The ethnic self-definition of the Hagarenes could with- 


The collision 

stand the early trickle without undue ideological strain; but it could hardly 
hope to survive uneroded when the trickle subsequently become a flood. 
Any insistence on the maximisation of identity thus threatened in the long 
run to down-grade both identity and truth. 

The alternative was the maximisation of truth. Even in the atavistic 
form of the religion of Abraham, Hagarism was more than the veneration 
of an ancestor : it was also monothcist truth in its primitive purity, the norm 
from which other, more sophisticated communities had fallen away. A 
fortiori the elevation of Muhammad to the role of a new scriptural prophet 
aligned with Moses and Jesus conferred on his message an unambiguously 
universal status. At the same time it was some feather in the Arab cap that 
the history of monotheist revelation should be sealed by an Ishmaelite. 
But there was a catch. If the message was to be of so elevated a character, 
in what way could the Ishmaelite ethnicity of the bearer be more than a 
historical accident? And if that was the case, it was not obvious how the 
role of the Arabs in the early history of the faith could possess any intrinsic 
religious significance, or how an intrinsically religious justification could 
be found for their subsequent primacy within the community. 13 The point 
is already implicit in the incident of the Gazan garrison : if Hagarism was a 
truth universal enough to require the assent of Roman soldiers, it was only 
logical that the conquerors should reinforce its appeal by offering to share 
their honour with their defeated enemies. For if the maximisation of 
identity made for an ethnic faith in the image of Judaism, the maximisation 
of truth made for a gentile faith in the image of Christianity; and it is 
noteworthy that while all Christians are figuratively children of the 
promise, the only literal ethnicity unrepresented in Christianity is that of 
the Jews. Were the Hagarenes then to go the way of the Judaeo-Christians 
before them? 16 

In the event the respective claims of truth and identity coexisted uneasily 
in a religious community made up of an Arab core which was not quite 
a chosen people 1 7 and a non-Arab penumbra which was not quite gentilic. 1 8 
Islam had in some measure accepted the demise of the ethnic 'life apart', 
and had become in some sense a universal religion ; but it had done so with- 
out its prophet ceasing to be honoured in his own country. 19 The relative 
religious standing of Arab and non-Arab within the community was 
accordingly a matter of extensive confusion. On the one hand the Koran 
proclaimed the most noble in the sight of God to be the most pious (49 :i 3), 
while innumerable traditions insisted that there was no genealogy between 
God and the believer other than that of obedience, 20 and that the Arab 
had no merit over the non-Arab except by piety: 21 attestations of a 
universalistic emphasis on the achievement of religious merit of a type 
familiar from Christianity. And on the other hand, we find the Prophet 


The fate of Hagarism 

proclaiming love of the Arabs to be part of the faith and warning his 
community that 'if you hate the Arabs, you hate me': 22 sentiments which 
Christian tradition would hardly have placed in the mouth of its founder in 
regard to his own ethnicity, and at the same time attestations of a contrary 
tendency towards the allocation of religious merit by genealogical ascrip- 
tion. 23 Two antithetical principles were thus invested with salvatory 
effect. 24 The relationship of conversion to ethnicity displays a similar 
ambivalence. On the one hand, the lawyers rejected the old relegation of 
the convert to the inferior status of client 25 — a practical move towards 
disengagement from the structure of the conquest society in favour of a 
gentilic Islam. But on the other hand, they effected this rejection by trans- 
posing clientage into kinship and insisting on the automatic assimilation 
of the convert, or his progeny, to Arab ethnicity 2 * — a theoretical reas- 
sertion of the old Hagarene yearning for the ethnic community of a chosen 
people, and one which found ritual support in the persistence of circum- 
cision. All men are of Adam and Adam was of dust; and yet Adam spoke 
Arabic in Paradise. 27 Hagarism could neither sustain the fusion of religion 
and ethnicity on the Judaic model, nor reconcile itself to their separation 
on the Christian model; the ethnic collision of Hagarism with the peoples 
of antiquity had issued in a civilisation which fell firmly and irredeemably 
between two stools. 

If the Hagarenes set out as a chosen people after the fashion of the Jews, 
they soon acquired a chosen political institution on the model of the 
Samaritans. The fusion of religion and ethnicity was thus matched by a 
fusion of religion and politics. Unlike the Christians, the Hagarenes had 
no reason ■ to dissolve their original messianism into an apolitical spiri- 
tuality: they suppressed their messiah, but their kingdom remained very 
much of this world. Unlike the Germans, the Hagarenes could make 
normative sense of their kingdom without recourse either to a profane 
tradition of barbarian kingship 28 or to the imperial traditions of the con- 
quered territories: the disparity of roles when the Gothic king Euric took 
to behaving like the chief priest of the Arian sect is clegandy resolved in 
Islam. 29 The transposition of messiah into high priest had thus preserved 
the intrinsically religious character of the original Hagarene polity. 30 
The move from Syria to Babylonia did not entirely destroy this intrinsic 
sanctity. But if the idea of the imamate survived, it was increasingly shorn 
of practical efficacy. The high priest had fallen among rabbis: for all the 
resources which power and priestliness had put at the disposal of Ma'mun, 3 1 
it was Ibn Hanbal who fought on his home ground. High-priesdy authority 
in orthodox Islam, though never quite subjected to formal occlusion, was 
deeply corroded. 32 The imamate was no longer embedded in a wider 


The collision 

priestly context : the integral priestliness of the Samaritan model had given 
way to an uneasy coexistence between a high-priesthood and a rabbinical 
substructure — a substructure long accustomed to political alienation and the 
absence of priestly authority, and which in its Islamic form lacked even the 
residual organisational resources of late rabbinic Judaism. 33 The charac- 
teristic rabbinic disjunction of piety and power was thus mapped into 
Islam in a particularly individuahst form at the expense of the high- 
priesthood. The pall of doubt which Abu Yusuf 's association with the 
authorities casts on his reliability as a transmitter of religious tradition, 34 
the quiet obstinacy which Ibn Hanbal opposed indifferendy to the per- 
secution he suffered at the hands of Ma'mun and the patronage he suffered 
at those of Mutawakkil, 35 the ritual intransigence of Sahnun's performance 
in the unwanted role of cadi, 3 6 all these are the characteristic motifs of a 
culture in which religious virtue resides not in the legitimate exercise of 
political power, but in the avoidance of contamination by it. 

The flight of piety and learning to the rabbinate left the priesdy vest- 
ments of power increasingly threadbare. On the doctrinal level, the grounds 
on which the early 'Abbasids based their legitimist claim were not accepted 
into orthodox Islam, 37 while the grounds on which orthodox Islam 
recognised the legitimacy of the 'Abbasids destroyed the point of the 
'Abbasid revolution. 38 Politically, the imamate as the central institution 
of the Islamic polity ceased in one way or another to be operational: it 
matters litde from this point of view whether we take our stand on the long- 
drawn-out indignity of 'Abbasid faineance, 39 the resurgence of kingship 
in the east, 40 or the debasement of caliphal titulature in the west. 41 The 
Sunni imamate, in so far as it continued to exist, tended to become more 
of an honorific than an identity, 42 and Sunn! Islam as a political doctrine 
came to be concerned less with the constitution of legitimate political 
authority than with the more or less ^discriminate recognition of the 
fact of political power. 43 The complementary process was the relegation of 
sacred government to the more or less heretical backlands. In the 'life 
apart' of the Ibidi and Zaydi imamates, the high-priesthood was trans- 
formed into an institution normatively viable only amid the anarchic tribal 
politics and gross material deprivations of the mountains and deserts, a 
style of government in intimate ideological resonance with the inner- 
Arabian career of the Prophet himself. 

The alternative to the imamate was the adoption of the political culture 
of the conquered peoples. As with the dt facto acceptance of gentile 
ethnicity, this was a course at once forced on the Hagarenes by their situa- 
tion as barbarian conquerors and precluded by their Judaic values ; and again 
the result was complex and disharmonic. On the one hand, the Hagarenes 
rejected the imperial traditions in virtue of which the government of the 


The fate of Hagarism 

civilised world had passed as legitimate. Not being mere Muslims, they 
could not accept the empires in the manner of the Christians; and not 
being mere Arabs, they could not restore them in the manner of the Franks. 
What the Muslims preserved from the political thought of Zoroastrian Iran 
was in the last resort not its values but its common sense : 44 politics had 
become economics par excellence.* 5 The demise of political legitimacy 
outside the backlands was thereby complete: incapable itself of conferring 
a positive legitimacy on the government of a civilised society, Islam had at 
the same time destroyed the legitimatory resources of the traditions it had 
conquered. On the other hand, the Hagarenes had of necessity to per- 
petuate the machinery of imperial government in the lands they had 
subjugated ; but they could not legitimate it in terms of their own religious 
values, 46 still less reshape those values to suit its needs. 47 In the history 
of China there is intimate and organic tension between Confucian theory 
and Legalist practice; 48 but between Islamic theory and pre-Islamic 
practice there is simply a yawning gulf. 

Imperial rule and its social foundations are a complex and mimetic 
phenomenon, and such deprivation of legitimatory resources is not a trivial 
matter. In the first place, it does something to explain the demise of aristo- 
cracy in Islam: it is hardly surprising that the tribal aristocracy of conquest 
in due course disintegrated, but it is striking that, instead of giving way 
to a new imperial aristocracy, it lost its power to the generals and its 
sharaf to the saints — a characteristically Islamic disjunction. 49 In the 
second place, the scarcity of legitimatory resources at the disposal of 
Muslim rulers does something to explain the fact that the tribal army of 
conquest gave way not to Hagarene legionaries but to imported mamluks, 
a distinctively Muslim phenomenon. 50 The outcome was a style of 
government which, though it came to be more or less familiarly Muslim, 
could never be specifically Islamic. 

The Islamic polity thus fell victim to the conspiracy of force and value 
to which it originally owed its existence. The old tribal hostility towards 
the alien and oppressive states of settled societies went well with the 
alienation of the rabbis from the profanity of all existing political power; 
and the result was that the political imagination of Islam remained fixated 
on the desert. This fixation is not without a certain affinity with a key 
value of Chinese Communism which might be expressed as 'better red than 
expert' : political virtue resides in the perpetuation of the austere sanctity 
of the Oar al-hijra in Yenan, not in the profane technocratic sophistication 
of the Cantonese litoral which the Maoist tnubajirim were eventually to 
conquer." Whatever the future of redness and expertise in China, the 
'Abbisid attempt to be both black and expert was a failure. Thereafter 
Islamic history polarised. On the one hand we have the imamates in the 


The collision 

backlands, true to their colours and bereft of expertise; and on the other, 
the merging of blackness and expertise in the grey quietism of settled 
Muslim society. Islamic history is thus marked by a menace of tribal 
incursion into settled society that is not just material, as in the case of 
traditional China, but also moral, and Islamic politics by a fundamental 
disjunction of sacred government and civilisation. 

Something of the same relationship between Islam and the civilisation it 
had conquered recurs in the field of culture. On the one hand we have a 
heritage which was the peculiar treasure of the Hagarenes: a Jahiliyya, 
complete with its heroism and its poetry, which emancipated the Muslims 
from dependence on that of the Greeks 52 and constituted the basis of 
Islamic literary culture. The Chinese might point snidely to the smell of 
sheep that tainted the poetry of literati of barbarian extraction; but Arabic 
poetry is the smell of camels. Yet if this heritage in a suitably elaborated 
form could displace the literary culture of antiquity more or less completely, 
it could not perform the same service for the Muslims in the domain of 
systematic thought. The Arab Jahiliyya had evolved very differendy from 
that of the Greeks: it was hanifc, not Presocratics, who pointed the way 
from ignorance to wisdom in the Arabian desert, and a prophet, not a 
philosopher, who condemned the paganism of the poets. To think was to 
think in concepts, and concepts were a product of the cultural evolution 
of the Greeks. In principle, as we have seen, Islam could neither assimilate 
nor coexist with Greek intellection; yet in practice the Muslims could no 
more renounce the techniques of civilised thought than they could those of 
civilised government. The result was a profoundly dislocated culture. 

The most sweeping example of this dislocation is the withering of 
intellectual coherence and emotional meaning in the structure of the Muslim 
universe. In this domain the Muslims were the heirs of two long-established 
universes, those of the Hebrews and the Greeks. The Hebrews were a 
minor people living cheek by jowl with their unique ethnic God. The 
smallness of scale and narrowness of focus of this universe had two com- 
plementary effects. On the one hand, it was a voluntaristic universe: there 
was no call for the will of its God to be mstitutionalised in a reliably regular 
form. But on the other, the arbitrariness was tempered by intimacy: 
Yahweh's ill-tempered outbursts were alarmingly hazardous for all con- 
cerned, but they were also reassuringly intelligible. The Greeks, by 
contrast, had put their gods in perspective and made over the universe to 
the systematic and regular operation of concepts. Whether we take our 
stand on the attempt to implant an intrinsic metaphysical meaning in the 
universe in the tradition of the Stoics, or the attempt to denude it in 
favour of a relendessly materialist causality in the tradition of the Epicur- 


The fate of Hagarism 

eans, is from this point of view unimportant. Either way, the Greek 
universe was one emptied of personal intimacy but emancipated from 
personal arbitrariness. 

In a sense the universes of the Hebrews and the Greeks were so dif- 
ferent that it was futile to attempt a reconciliation. 53 Personal Gods and 
impersonal concepts are not made to mix, a fact as painfully concealed in 
Christian theology as it is exhuberandy displayed in Saivite mythology. 54 
Personal Gods can make an immediate moral sense of the universe, 55 
impersonal concepts can make a distant causal sense of it; but it is impos- 
sible to maximise on emotional warmth and conceptual order concur- 
rendy. 56 Any religion which bases a systematic theology on the axiomatic 
omnipotence of God will accordingly be afflicted with Mu'tazilites worry- 
ing over the resulting moral incoherence; just as one basing it on his axio- 
matic goodness will engender Zurvanites worrying over the resulting 
causal incoherence. Yet a compromise between the two universes was in 
practice possible and, outside the insulated ethnic intimacy of the ghetto, 
indispensable. If the Hebrews could be represented by a heresy which took 
a soft line on concepts, and the Greeks by a school which took a similarly 
soft line of gods, there were clearly possibilities for reconciliation and 
conflation. Between the rabbis and the Epicureans there was litde media- 
tion to be accomplished; but the Christians and the Stoics could come 
to terms. On the one hand the Hebrew God receded to an appropriate 
metaphysical distance: whence the persistent Christian search for more 
intimate and familiar spiritual presences, despite repeated assurances of 
divine affection. But on the other hand Yahweh had now finally learnt 
to delegate: despite intermittent recrudescences of the miraculous, the 
actual running of the universe was to a large extent relinquished to con- 
cepts. Still in the last resort a despot, the Christian God was nevertheless 
by Hellenic standards a passably enlightened one. He himself was no 
longer given to very strenuous activity; but as a symbol over and above 
the impersonal laws, he evinced a compensatory stability. The Judaic 
gesta Dei had given way to a Greek divine essence, just as the pious conduct 
of the rabbis had given way to the conceptual orthodoxy of the bishops. 

The Muslims, by contrast, inherited the worst of both universes. The 
confrontation between the two heritages here took place on very different 
terms. The result of the Hagarene conquest was to bring monotheism out of 
the ghetto in its most intransigent rabbinic form; but equally those who 
conquer the world cannot resolutely refuse the attempt to make causal 
sense of it, and conquest had given the Hagarenes easy access to the Hel- 
lenic resources that the attempt required. The result was irresolvable dis- 
harmony in place of Christian compromise. When a conceptual orthodoxy 
threatened to take over their over-extended ghetto, the Muslim rabbis 


The collision 

had themselves to develop a dogmatism that had no place in the rabbinic 
tradition: the intimate features of their personal God were reduced to a 
cold anthropomorphism expounded with doctrinaire obscurantism. 57 At 
the same time the theologians were forced to develop a conceptual Luddism 
that was no part of the intellectual tradition: the elegant concepts of the 
impersonal universe were reduced to an anticonceptual occasionalism, a 
bizarre fusion of theistic voluntarism and atheistic atomism in defence of 
the sovereignty of a Hebraic God against the wiles of Hellenic causality. 
Like the Christian God, Allah had receded from the world of his followers: 
where the Hebrews covenanted with their God, the Hagarenes merely 
submitted, and where Moses went up and down the mountain carrying 
tables and patching up quarrels, Muhammad receivedhis revelations through 
the mediation of an angelic underling. But unlike the Christian God, 
Allah did not make up for this distancing by learning to delegate: he had 
lost the intimacy of the Hebraic God but kept his arbitrariness, ceased to 
be a physical presence without becoming a metaphysical essence. Cut loose 
from the containing context of the ethnic 'life apart', yet untouched by the 
cosmopolitan concepts of the gentiles, the personality of the Hebrew 
God had given way to an inscrutable and alien omnipotence which emptied 
the universe alike of personal warmth and impersonal order. The effects 
of this emptiness are strikingly pervasive in later Islam. On the one hand 
we find almost everywhere in the Islamic world the attempt to restore the 
lost warmth in Sufism: deprived of his personal God as a rabbi, even so 
intransigent a Hanbalite as Ibn Taymiyya succumbed to mysticism. 58 
And on the other hand we have the bleak recognition of a universe without 
moral or causal sense characteristic of popular fatalism: submission to 
God has degenerated into resignation to a sort of occasionalist astrology. 

At a somewhat less exalted level, this interaction meant that the Muslims 
inherited the causality of the Greek universe without its philosophical 
meaning. An intransigent voluntarism is after all a sort of theological 
equivalent of the Ibadi imamate: a fine assertion of principle, but not 
much help in the civilised world when it comes to getting things done. 
Even the devotees of an occasionalist God have to come to some kind of 
behavioural accommodation with the fact that they live in a universe of 
some causal autonomy. In such a universe sciences like medicine and astro- 
logy represent techniques of immense manipulative or predictive power. 
Just as Muslim rulers could not in practice dispense with the fiscal tech- 
niques of the prc-Islamic world in virtue of a doctrinaire legalism, so also 
they could not afford to do without the services of its doctors and astro- 
logers in virtue of a doctrinaire occasionalism. Illiterate prophets are all 
very well in matters of religion; but in matters of science Lysenkos are an 
expensive ideological luxury. So the continuing market for the expedient 


The fate of Hagarism 

justice of the Persians was matched by a continuing market for the ex- 
pedient science of the Greeks. 59 But if the practice was indispensable, the 
theory was unacceptable; the wider field of values in virtue of which the 
sciences of the Greeks were more than magical manipulations remained 
deeply suspect in Islam. 60 

The incoherence of Islamic civilisation in the dimensions of ethnicity, polity 
and world-view is thus a strikingly uniform one. A particularist Hagarism 
might have provided the religious sanction for a concrete 'life apart' some- 
what in the manner of the Jews: a narrow vertical fusion in which a 
particular ethnic community was associated with a distinctive political 
and cultural pattern under the aegis of an intimately voluntarist God. 
A universalist Islam might have evolved into a 'mere religion' somewhat 
in the manner of Christianity: a thin horizontal stratum associated only 
by historical accident with a given polity and culture, content to accept 
its politics from the Persians and its wisdom from the Greeks. Neither 
alternative was historically on the cards : conquest had made the Hagarenes 
too permeable to stay like the Jews and too powerful to become like the 
Christians. And neither could have created a civilisation, as opposed to 
rejecting or accepting an existing one. But if the achievement was peculiar 
to Hagarism, so also was the cost. Hagarism ended up as neither one thing 
nor the other, neither comfortably compact nor comfortably diffuse. It was 
not only antiquity which suffered when the ancient contents were thrust 
into the Hagarene form; the fate of Hagarism in Islamic civilisation was 
in its own way just as unhappy. 




Without the fusion of barbarian force with Judaic value there would have 
been no such thing as Islamic civilisation, and the intransigent stance 
of Islam vis-a-vis the heritage of antiquity was consequendy part of the 
price that had to be paid for its very existence. But if to think away this 
fusion of barbarian force and Judaic values is to think away the civilisation 
itself, it is by no means qbvious that quite so much barbarian force in the 
primary stage, and quite the same Judaic values in the secondary evolution, 
were required to bring it about. The question thus arises whether Hagarism 
could have developed in a manner which would have substantially lowered 
die price without losing the commodity; or, if such speculation is felt 
to be beyond the scope of history, whether it did in fact develop in such 
a manner outside the central tradition examined so far. 

Between the extremes of violendy overrunning civilisation in the style 
of die Mongols and peacefully permeating it in the style of the Christians, 
there is the usual experience of more or less laborious conquest. Ori the 
whole the Hagarenes found it no more laborious to overrun civilisation 
than did the Mongols, and when they did the effect was largely lost on 
barbarians : no civilisation stood to gain from the difficulties which the 
Arabs experienced in subduing North Africa or the Caucasus. There was, 
however, one significant exception. Eastern Iran had both well-entrenched 
principalities and a well-entrenched civilisation; and when the Hagarenes 
encountered these principalities, and for once in their history of effort- 
less conquest found .themselves constrained to make concessions- to a 
local power structure, they unsurprisingly found that they had to come to 
some sort of terms with the civilisation it represented as well. The popula- 
tion of eastern Iran was not dragged to Paradise in chains, 1 they entered 
it as allies, 2 and as a result they had some say in the choice of itinerary. 

Historically, the survival of an Iranian order of society with an Islamic 
blessing does much to explain why it was the outlying lands of the frontier 
and not metropolitan Fars which played the leading role in the Iranian, 
resurgence. Nobles and priests though they might be among their own 
people, the elite of western Iran were in no position to bargain with the 
conquerors for a status above the common run of client converts; and 


Sadducee Islam 

whether they chose to live by their heritage in isolation from the con- 
querors, or to renounce it for a life in common with them, the heritage 
itself was doomed. Only in Khurasan and Transoxania did the syncretic 
terms of trade tip in favour of the converts, and it was accordingly here 
that the mages islamists in the shape of the syncretic prophets and die 
aristocratts islamists in the shape of the successor dynasties could contribute 
to an Islamicised Iran which endured after both had lost out to rabbis and 
mamluks. 3 The survival of an Iranian order of society likewise does much to 
explain the role of eastern Iran as one of the last strongholds of Hellenic 
epistemology. If Greek concepts are exportable to any elite, there were 
in practice by the eleventh century few elites left to import them: it is 
from this point of view entirely appropriate that it was in Chorasmia that 
the Stoicising BIruni compiled his erudite yet emotive record of die traces 
of the past. 

Conceptually, eastern Iran affords a glimpse of what might have been : 
ah Islam which had abandoned its fixation on the desert to sanctify cities, 
aristocracies and concepts, and given up its fixation on the Arabs to make 
room for a non-Arab identity. Had the conquered peoples elsewhere been 
similarly able to retard the tempo of Arab conquest, they might presumably 
have succeeded in obtaining similarly favourable bargains ; but conversely, 
their failure to do so made it inevitable that eastern Iran should sooner 
or later be reduced to the same predicament. 

The second respect in which Islamic civilisation was arguably more expen- 
sive than it need have been was its Judaic values. In this case the histor- 
ically relevant alternatives can be taken as the patterns of the three 
religions which had contributed singificantly to the shaping of Hagarism : 
Judaism, Christianity and Samaritanism. Clearly the notion of a secondary 
evolution taking Hagarism closer to either Judaism or Christianity has 
little to offer in the present context. Specifically, neither Kharijism nor 
Sufism suggest plausible instruments for the remaking of civilisation. The 
first was too puritan, the second too permissive, to grapple with the 
heritage of antiquity in a formative manner. The fate of Kharijism was 
appropriately to live out its 'life apart' beyond the frontiers of the civilised 
world; 4 while the role of Sufism appropriately went no further than 
softening the edges of a civilisation brought into existence under a very 
different aegis. 5 

The Samaritan pattern is more interesting. The tone of Samaritanism is 
set by the dominance of a learned but genealogically constituted priest- 
hood which at the same time wields such political authority as exists within 
the community. 6 We have seen how this pattern was adopted into Islam, 
and it is quite conceivable that it could in fact have prevailed there : the 


The collision 

messianic legacy of the Judean desert did not in itself commit the Hagarenes 
to the rabbinic legacy of Babylonia. 

Now priesdy and rabbinical cultures differ in two key respects. In the 
first place, the status of a priest is primarily a matter of genealogical ascrip- 
tion, that of a rabbi is largely achieved by learning. A priest is therefore in 
a position to take some risks with his learning: he does not thereby com- 
promise his genealogy. But a rabbi who tampers with the tradition of the 
fathers undermines the basis of his identity as a rabbi. In the second place, 
this difference in the role of learning tends to be matched by a difference in 
form. The backbone of rabbinical learning is the exoteric letter of an all- 
embracing religious law; the key-note of priesdy learning easily becomes 
the esoteric discretion of a cultural elite. 

This syncretic potential does not seem to have been much exploited 
by the Samaritans themselves. Historically, however, the contrast between 
the priestliness of the Samaritans and the rabbinicism of the Jews reflects 
a polarisation that had taken place in Hellenistic Judea several centuries 
before; and in the mutual hostility of the Sadducees and the Pharisees, 
the very different syncretic potentials of the two forms of religious author- 
ity are very much in evidence. In this context, of course, the issue was 
the reception of the prevailing civilisation, not the creation of a new one : 
the Jews were no conquerors. But suppose that in the aftermath of the 
Hagarene conquests it had been a Sadducee rather than a Pharisaic Islam 
that had presided over the ensuing cultural interaction. Could such a 
constellation in principle have issued in a new civilisation better integrated 
than the one that actually emerged? 

In the first place, there can be little doubt that a Sadducee Islam could 
have provided more comfortable niches for the residual identities of the 
conquered peoples. In one way, of course, priesdy genealogy went direcdy 
against this. Whereas the Kharijite rejection of sacred genealogy as such 
opened all religious roles to the non-Arabs, the Shi'ite commitment to 
'Alid descent necessarily reserved the key roles to the Prophet's own 
ethnicity. There is thus nothing inappropriate in the streak of Jahili pride 
which runs through a certain style of Shi'ite literature. 7 But more sub- 
stantially, the restriction of sacred genealogy to the priesthood emptied 
the ethnicity of the laity of religious significance, and the priesdy license 
with which the holy family was endowed facilitated the manipulation of 
this ethnic neutrality. So that however impressive the Kharijite tour de 
force in legitimating the rule of a Persian high-priest over a Berber laity, 
in practice the non-Arabs stood to fare equally well by casting in their 
lot with an Arab priesthood. 

So on the Shi'ite side, we have appropriate general protestations of the 
irrelevance of Arab ethnicity; 8 and on the gentile side, a string of non- 


Sadducee Islam 

Arab peoples toying with, the attractions of Shi 'ism. In part, this ethnic 
role of Shi 'ism merely replicates that of Kharijism. That is to say, it pro- 
vided a form of Islam more accommodating towards the identities of 
peoples with no civilisation to lose — Berbers, Turks, Albanians. 9 But 
much more significant than this is the willingness to perpetuate something 
more than mere ethnicity which appears incompletely in the relationship 
which developed between Shi 'ism and the Iranians. Even in the most 
Sadducee of all possible world, there would doubdess have been limits 
to the possibilities for such a rapprochement; 10 and in a world in which 
Sunnism shaped the criteria of what was and was not a respectable heresy, 
these limits were, as we have seen, extremely constricting. But if it is a 
historical accident that Iran ended up as a Shi 'ite country, it is an unusually 
felicitous one. 

In the second place, the question is whether a Sadducee Islam could 
have legitimated the formation of an Islamic civilisation in which the 
heritage of anitquity formed part of an integrated cultural substructure, 
dominated by the Islamic architectonic without being denatured by it. 
Could there have been an Islamic polity in which the practice of civilised 
government was harmonised with the theory of sacred government, 1 1 an 
Islamic culture in which the literary heritage of Arabia was at ease with 
the conceptual heritage of Greece, an Islamic universe in which the 
sovereignty of a personal God was coordinated with the regularity of 
impersonal science? Again, the materials which the actual course of 
history contributes to an answer are at once fragmentary and suggestive. 

Two historical phenomena are worth attention in this context. First, 
there is the relationship of the two great priesdy dynasties of early Islamic 
history to the heritages of the peoples they had conquered. 12 On the 
Umayyad side, the primary evidence is archeological. The ruins of Umayyad 
Syria convey a sense of cultural poise amid the artistic and architectural 
riches of the ancient world such as the rabbis of Babylonia could never 
attain: 13 the gymnasium built by the Sadducee high priest Jason in his 
attempt to turn Jerusalem into a Greek city finds its last echo in the 
gymnasts that adorn the Umayyad palace at Qusayr 'Amra. On the 
'Abbasid side, we have the well-known but otherwise puzzling cultural 
nerve of the early caliphs, to which the syncretic flexibility of the high- 
priesthood can be seen as providing the conceptual key. If the early 
'Abbasids set themselves up as Rafidi imams, 14 it was presumably because 
only in that capacity could they legitimate the Persian monarchic tradition 
without losing their inherent Islamic sanctity. Similarly, it was by con- 
flating the imamate with mahdism that they could shape an intrinsically 
Islamic aristocracy, partly by using participation in the apocalyptic event 
commemorated' in their names 15 as the charter of a service aristocracy in 

1 33 

The collision 

succession to that of the tribes, 16 and partly through the exercise of their 
own priestly discretion as in the liberal sanctification of the Persian aristo- 
cracy of eastern Iran. 17 Finally, it was by conflating the imamate with 
Greek epistemology that they could sponsor a conceptual theology to 
delete the letter of the law, and apply their own reason where a Mu'tazilite 
law had deleted Prophetic tradition. 18 With sacred reason, in short, they 
could soften the rigours of sacred tribalism and ease the reception of 
Shu'ubl civilisation. 

The other historical phenomenon of interest here is the relative 
receptivity to Greek concepts displayed by ShT'ism. 19 On the one hand 
mere is the penchant of moderate Shi 'ism for Mu'tazilism: witness 
the partial incorporation of Mu'tazilism into Imamism and its integral 
survival, in Zaydism. 20 And on the other there is the more full-blooded 
Phiiheiienism that appears among the Isma'IEs: witness the reception 
of. a Neoplatonic philosophy into eastern Isma'ilism, 21 and the striking 
astrological syncretism of the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity. 22 

We can also see in action in Shi 'ism something of the mechanics, social 
and intellectual, of Sadducee Islam. In social terms Shi 'ism and Hellenism— 
in contrast to Sunni Islam — share a fundamental dichotomy between 
Ichassa and * omnia: the 'Alid priesthood as against the laity in the Shi'ite 
esse/ ' the philosophical elite as against the masses in the Hellenic. What 
was at issue in the relations between Shi 'ism and Hellenism was thus the 
merging of two elitisms, and it is only appropriate that both should have 
lost out to the rabbinical Islam of the 'amma. 2 * In intellectual terms this 
social symmetry provided the basis on which the two sides could do 
business. On the one hand Hellenism could provide arcane intellectual 
stuffing for the esoteric pretensions of the 'Alid priesthood: concepts 
£>nd astrology to eke out the name of God and the calendar. And on the 
other, the esoteric wisdom of the priests could be used as a sort of blank 
cheque to legitimate the reception of what was in fact the wisdom of the 
Greeks: the Hellenic borrowings of the Shi'ites were characteristically 
sanctioned by attribution to the family of the Prophet. 25 

There is thus a certain basis for supposing that a better integrated Islamic 
civilisation might have taken shape under the aegis of a Sadducee Islam. 
A priori, a priesthood on the Samaritan model was in a position to combine 
a cultural receptivity absent from the Judaic pattern with a power of 
remoulding absent from the Christian pattern. A posteriori, history affords 
fleeting but suggestive glimpses of the style in which a Sadducee Islam 
might actually have handled the identities and truths of antiquity. To- 
gether, these points establish a certain plausibility for our hypothetical world. 

But in the real world it was a Pharisaic Islam that oversaw the formation 


Sadducee Islam 

of Islamic civilisation, and there is good historical reason to suppose that it 
could not have been otherwise. In itself, of course, the failure of Ma'mun 
against Ibn Hanbal shows only that the 'Abbasid attempt was made too 
late, at a time when the rabbinic authority structure of Islam had manifestly 
set for good. But in fact the reasons why the 'Abbasids not only failed, but 
had to fail, are bound up with the use which the Umayyads had made of the 
priesthood before them. 

For the Umayyads the priesthood constituted the one resource they 
possessed for the completion of two distinct tasks, the elaboration of 
the Hagarene religious identity and the creation of a Hagarene civilisation. 
The circumstances they faced, however, conspired to make it almost im- 
possible for them to use their priestly authority for both at once. In the 
elaboration of their religious identity the Umayyads had two precedents 
to follow, the Samaritan and the Christian. On the one hand they could 
choose the first, as they actually did, and employ their priesdiness to eff ect 
a literalistic projection of their Judaic heritage onto an Arabian scenario. 
But unlike the Samaritans, they thereby turned themselves into priests in 
exile; and given the prominence of Babylonia among their conquests and 
of tribesmen among the conquerors, they were thereby running the risk 
of digging their own graves in favour of a collusion of tribes and rabbis 
which would issue in the rejection of civilisation. On the other hand they 
could have followed the Christian precedent, as in a sense the 'Abbasids 
were to do, and sublimated their Judaic heritage into metaphor. But unlike 
the 'Abbasids they were as yet in no position to take their religious identity 
for granted ; and given the predominance of Christians among their sub- 
jects, they would have run the risk of being absorbed into Christianity and 
Christian civilisation. The only way the Umayyads could have ensured 
both the survival of the Hagarene religion and the Fortleben of the con- 
quered civilisation would have been to establish a quite different relation- 
ship between themselves and the earlier monothcist faiths : one based not 
on literalistic projection or metaphorical sublimation, but on the wholely 
unprecedented expedient of outright nationalisation. Had the Hagarenes 
provided Jerusalem, the prophets and the scriptures with an Arab genealogy, 
instead of decking out Arabia with a Jerusalem, a Moses and a Torah, they 
would firmly and finally have superseded both Judaism and Christianity — 
instead of coexisting with them in an ambiguous conflation of parallelism 
and linear succession. 26 But that would have required a nerve which, in 
the last resort, not even 'Abd al- Malik possessed; and to the extent that 
the option was never real, it is not surprising that the Umayyads opted 
to learn from the Samaritans who had given them the priesthood itself. 
And the ultimate effect of this choice was to reduce the priesthood to a 
fossilised survival in a world whose living fauna were rabbinical. It 


The collision 

remains to add that the fate of priestliness was scarcely much happier 
in Shi'ism itself. 

As the consolidation of hostile power rendered it increasingly unlikely 
that an 'Alid imamate could be established in the civilised world the 
Shi' ites of Iraq responded in two very different directions. On the one 
hand the Imamis elected to remain where they were whatever the ideol- 
ogical cost, and set about adapting their originally activist heritage to the 
quietist imperatives of their environment. Generally, they sought to 
defuse their relationship to orthodox Islam by toning down 27 or con- 
cealing 28 the more offensive aspects of their heritage. Specifically, the 
right to initiate legitimate rebellion was first concentrated in a single line 
of reliably inactive imams, 29 and finally snuffed out altogether with the 
despatch of the imam into a virtually transcendental occlusion. 30 The 
politics of Imamism were thus the restoration of the quietist politics of the 
ghetto. 31 

The Zaydis, on the other hand, opted to pursue their political am- 
bitions whatever the ecological cost. Generally, Zaydism is characterised 
by an irrepressible adventurism which contrasts at every point with the 
oppressive quietism of the Imamis. 32 Specifically, the ecological promis- 
cuity of the early Zaydl adventurers contrasts with the strikingly res- 
tricted character of their lasting successes: when the dust had settled, the 
Zaydis had swapped the urban ghettoes of Babylonia for the mountain 
tribes of the Caspian and the Yemen. 33 The Zaydi imamate had come to 
rest as the cornerstone of a style of tribal state formation founded ulti- 
mately in the consent which, in the absence of significant concentrations of 
power or wealth, sanctity alone can elicit. 34 

In these divergent developments the politics of Shi'ism had come com- 
pletely in two. Both Imamism and Zaydism were ultimately committed to 
the ideal of a real universal imamate. But where Imamism had sacrificed 
the reality to preserve the universality of a shadow, Zaydism had sac- 
rificed the universaUty as the cost of attaining a parochial reality; 35 and 
where Imamism had remained a metropolitan heresy at the cost of re- 
nouncing practice, Zaydism had remained a practical heresy at the cost 
of renouncing the metropolis. 36 

The cultural implications of this political disintegration are easily 
spelled out. On the one hand, the ImamI evolution led direcdy to the 
reabsorption of high-priesdy authority into the rabbinical milieu of the 
ghetto. A pathetically unsuccessful conspiracy against the imams of error 
had ended as an ironically successful one against the imams of guidance; 
and the only significant residue of priesdy authority now lay in the fact that 
the Imam! rabbinate remained, so to speak, tannaitic, where that of the 
Sunnis was merely amoraic. On the other hand, the Zaydi imamate had 


Sadducee Islam 

become a seed which grew only upon stony ground. Zaydism had with- 
drawn from civilisation to live in symbiosis with barbarism, and 'better 
white than expert' seems a fair formulation of its doctrinal message and 
political record. The Zaydi imams in their mountain fastnesses retained an 
impressive commitment to learning; 37 but the contribution of their priesdy 
authority to the shaping of civilisation was necessarily minimal. In sum, the 
Imamis abandoned their imamate and retreated into the ghetto, while the 
Zaydis retained theirs and retreated to the backlands; but either way, the 
outcome smacked less of the cultural openness of the Sadducees than of the 
Pharisaic 'life apart'. 

It was against this background that Shi 'ism in its Isma '111 form made 
its last and in some ways its most impressive attempt to bring together 
sanctity and civilisation; 38 and its failure is a vivid testimony to the intrac- 
tability of the dilemma. As an Islamic heresy, Ismallism was constructed 
in unique organisational and ideological depth, at once ecologically plural 3 * 
and doctrinally flexible. 40 Its capacity to hold the resulting tensions ruined 
on the maintain ance of a delicate balance which related a variety of local 
political services to a single overarching politico-religious idea : an imarnic 
mahdism which promised the reality of the Zaydl imamate without its 
parochiality, and the universality of the Imam! apocalypse without its 
political irrelevance. 

In organisational terms, the key figure in this structure was the da':'. 
combining a local status in a parochial ecological niche with an instrumental 
role in a grander universal conspiracy. 41 In this balance lay both the dis- 
tinctive strength and the distinctive vulnerability of Isma 'ill organisation. 
On the one hand, we have here a dynamic attempt to transcend the static 
ecological adaptions of Imamism and Zaydism : in the former, by contrast, 
there was no longer a figure on behalf of whom a local figure could con- 
spire, while in the latter the imam himself was a local figure with a 
religiously terminal status. But on the other hand, the balance could easily 
be upset in either direction: by a short-circuiting whereby the da'i en- 
cashed the mahdist cheque on his own behalf, 42 or by the evaporation or 
the wider conspiracy in virtue of which his role possessed its ecumenical 
meaning. 43 The organisational elasticity of Isma 'Ilism was thus poised 
between the threats of intractable rigidity on the one hand and indefinite 
distention on the other. 

In ideological terms, the central conception of Ismallism is an im- 
minent mahdism generating a relationship between present and future 
that is both cognitively flexible and emotionally taut. Again the balance 
is precarious. If the mahdist cheque is cashed now, the future collapses 
into the present, and the poise gives way to the intrinsic meaninglessness 
of post-eschatological reality: 'Ubaydallah al-Mahdi might have been 


The collision 

happier as a Zaydi imam. But if the cheque is never cashed, the recession 
of the mahdic future empties the present of political meaning, and the 
emotional tautness is lost: the learned eleventh-century dai Kirmani 
might have been happier as an Imami rabbi. 44 Or to put it slighdy dif- 
ferently, the persuasiveness of Isma'Hism turns on the power of its meta- 
phors : but if, as in the early doctrine of the Druzes, the metaphors are 
precipitated into literal truth, 45 or if, as in the writings of Nasir-i Khusraw, 
they are diluted into mere mystification, 46 then the delicate balance of 
ailusiveness and elusiveness is destroyed. For Isma'ilis, like Marxists, have 
to dissimulate the fact that in the last resort they must choose between en- 
cashing their promise in a sordid Russian imamate and dishonouring it in 
an effete Parisian galut; and the grandeur of Ismailism, like that of 
Marxism, lies in a vision the plausibility of which must sooner or later wear 

The Nizaris tried to escape from this trap by the old expedient of a new 
start. But it takes more than novelty to effect a renovation, and the shallow 
utopianism of the 'new preaching' is well indicated by the rapid onset of 
parochialisation and the parallel decay of philosophy into magic. 47 The 
outcome was in effect just another Zaydi imamate in the backlands, with 
the added encumbrance of an absurdly elaborate doctrinal heritage and the 
marginal asset of an Imami ghetto which owed its survival to its location 
on the periphery of the Islamic world. In the fullness of time the accidents 
of history brought the imamate to the ghetto : the high-priest ended up in 
British India as he had begun in Achaemenid Judea, the leader of a minor 
religious community vis-a-vis its distanly benevolent imperial rulers. And it 
was in this setting that Sadducee Islam achieved its most dramatic cultural 
success. The Aga Khans proclaimed the abrogation of the ghetto 48 and the' 
reception of civilisation; if they preferred the turf to the gymnasium, they 
were nonetheless worthy heirs of the high priests of Hellenistic Judea. But 
whatever the triumphs of Sadducee Islam in this exotic and implausible 
setting, it had left the rest of the Islamic world to its own Pharisaic 
devices : 'even though we are Sadducees, yet we are afraid of the Phari- 
sees . 




Islamic history is marked by a striking narrowness and fixity of semantic 
resources. It was of course compounded from the same trio of classical, 
Hebraic and barbarian elements as was the history of Europe. But whereas 
in Europe the three sources remained distinct, Islam rejected the first and 
fused the other two; and as a result its resources are heavily concentrated 
in a single and specifically religious tradition. What this meant for the 
character of Islamic civilisation in relation to the cultures it succeeded we 
have already seen. It is however worth giving the analysis a certain em- 
phasis by extending the comparison to include the very different history of 
Europe. For just as the single source of the Islamic tradition accounts for 
the austerely unitary character of so much of Islamic history, so also the 
plurality of sources of the culture of Europe is a precondition for its com- 
plex historical evolution. It was through the interaction of historically 
heterogeneous but culturally accredited traditions that the Europeans were 
afflicted with that unceasing quest for truths which prevented the harassed 
Faust from settling down in Gretchen's garden; while conversely the Mus- 
lims, having acquired the poise of certainty, were under no temptation to 
offer their souls to Mephistopheles for a glimpse of the final truth. While 
this contrast is so basic as to be almost a truism, it can be brought out with 
some precision by a comparison of the different effects of fundamentalism 
■in the domains of truth and identity in the worlds of Europe and Islam. 

Our starting point is a certain parallelism between the rise of Islam and 
the Protestant Reformation. In both east and west, the world of antiquity 
acquired a watered-down version of Judaism in the shape of Christianity. 
In both, this partial adoption of Judaic values ipso facto made available 
the project of taking these values more seriously. In both, the project 
found historical embodiment in movements which rejected a degenerate 
Christianity in something of the same terms: there is the same assertion 
of an intransigent monotheism against the polytheism or idolatry of latter- 
day Christians, the same excision of mystery from the moral relationship 
of men to their God, 1 the same denaturing of society and nature through 
the making over of the universe to the absolute sovereignty of the divine 
will. 2 ' : 


The collision 

But beyond this point, east and west present a simple and basic con- 
trast. In the east the turn towards a more thoroughgoing Hebraicism in 
the seventh century was an exogenous movement : the values of a Judaism 
which had remained spiritually outside eastern Christendom fused with 
the force of barbarians who had remained physically outside it. But in the 
west the failure of Gothic Arianism to anticipate the rise of Islam in the 
fourth century meant that it was no longer possible to restage it in the six- 
teenth : the Jews of course could still provide their quota of refugees, but 
the sixteenth-century Helvetians were no longer barbarians who could be 
enlisted to overthrow either Christianity or civilisation. 3 

The endogenous character of Protestantism — or to limit the discus- 
sion somewhat, of Calvinism — in contrast to Islam is crucial for its 
relationship to what went before it. The point applies at the levels of both 
ideas and realities. At the level of ideas a fundamentalist use of the 
Hebraic heritage of Christianity could of course provide a serviceable 
title to destroy. 4 But even for a religion whose scriptural canon embraced 
the Old and New Testaments, fundamentalism was hardly a sufficient re- 
source with which to build the world anew. And in any case Christian 
fundamentalism is necessarily an edifice without a foundation: it was pre- 
cisely by losing its foundations in metaphor that Christianity became a 
universal religion. 5 The fact that Calvinism could reach back to the Heb- 
raic heritage only from within Christianity thus meant that its distinctive 
semantic resources were greatly impoverished in comparison to those of 
Islam. The militarist imagery of Calvinism which finds such concrete em- 
bodiment in the seventeenth-century Armies of God, the unceasing imagery 
of pilgrimage which finds such concrete enactment in the religious mig- 
rations to Geneva or Massachussetts, the recurrent yearning for an intrin- 
sically religious political order, are so many forlorn intimations of the 
Islamic categories of jihad, hijra and imama. But they could not be more 
than intimations : the Crusades were about the only precedent the Cal- 
vinists could adduce for their militarism, 6 the wanderings of Abraham 
could have no literal geographical meaning for a tradition in which 
'Paradise is our native country', 7 and even the Old Testament role of the 
warning prophet assumed by so activist a saint as John Knox was parasitic 
on the existence of iniquitous monarchs for the prophet to warn. 8 Geneva 
might be Calvin's Medina, but Noyons was no Mecca; even in the Ameri- 
can wilderness, the capacity of the saints to imagine a sacred polity seems 
terribly atrophied by Islamic standards. 9 

At the level of realities, the fact that Calvinism had perforce to subvert 
Europe from within rather than conquer it from without entailed an equally 
far-reaching acceptance of what went before it. It was not that the spread 
of Calvinism took place in the pacific manner of early Christianity: its 


The austerity of Islamic history 

career was at least comparable in violence to that of early Islam. The point 
was that the military entrees of Calvinism lay primarily in civil war, not 
in conquest. Having conquered Iran, Islam could afford to pay scant at- 
tention to the norms of the Persian aristocracy ; but without a profound ap- 
peal to the predicament of the French nobility, Calvinism in France would 
not even have stood a chance. 10 So Calvinism had of necessity to take as 
its starting point the political and cultural dispositions of Swiss burghers, 
French aristocrats, or English gendemen ; there was political adaption as 
well as ideological poverty in the fact that Calvinists set about the subver- 
sion of contemporary polities in the name of profane and parochial ancient 

If we turn from the contemporary politics of Europe to its ultimate cul- 
tural roots, the picture is essentially the same. Even in its Christian recen- 
sion, the Hebraic heritage could stijl suggest the question what need the 
godly could have of civilisation if God himself was a barbarian. And this 
powerful solvent of allegiance to civilisation was occasionally applied in 
more extremist milieux: John Knox in the sixteenth century condemned the 
classical heritage because he saw value only in the 'perpetual repetition' 
of God's word, 1 1 John Webster in the seventeenth denounced clerical love 
of 'that humane learning which the plain people are destitute of '. 12 But by 
and large the impulse of Puritanism is not to reject the classical heritage 
in substance but rather to subject it to a superficial 'Calvinisation' in form. 
Thus Calvin himself took for granted the value of the political institutions 
of the pagan Greeks ; he merely saved the face of his Judaic God by 
categorising these institutions as 'the most excellent gifts of the Divine 
Spirit'. 13 Likewise Increase Mather took for granted the tightness of the 
Greek cause at Marathon ; he merely Christianised it by attributing it not 
to fortune in the manner of the pagan historians, but to the fact that the 
Grecians were 'secretly and invisibly animated by angels'. 14 If one cannot 
quite have the Greeks on the side of the angels, one can at least have the 
angels on die side of the Greeks; the Puritan devotion to the Hebraic 
God leads not to the disowning of Hellas but to its retrospective adoption 
by him. 

This effect is particularly striking in the domain of philosophy. In 
principle the Calvinists might have used the restoration of unlimited divine 
sovereignty to destroy the conceptual heritage of the Greeks; and there 
is a strong odour of Hanbalism both in the general aversion of Calvinism 
towards any tendency to wade into deep theological waters 15 and in the 
specific accusation of Webster that the university men 'have drawn theo- 
logy into a close and strict logical method, and thereby hedged in the free 
workings and manifestations of the Holy one of Israel'. 16 But in general 
the Puritan response to philosophy was not deep rejection but superficial 


The collision 


It was of course possible to effect this assimilation by creating a formal 
category of 'prophetic philosophy' analogous to that of 'Prophetic medi- 
cine' in Islam: hence the formally Christian 'Mosaic philosophy' with its 
substantively Hermetic content. 17 But the characteristically Calvinist solu- 
tion was the invocation of the deity himself: instead of being dismissed as 
a form of human reason invented by the heathen Greeks, 'God's logic' 18 
was exalted as a fragment of the divine will partially and inscrutably 
vouchsafed to them. The Calvinists did not of course make enthusiastic 
Aristotelians; but the Calvinist rejection of Aristotle issued not in Hanba- 
iism but in Ramism, 19 in the development, that is, of a new logic which was 
by very strong association, if not quite intrinsically, Calvinist. So where 
Ibn Taymiyya, a stern unbending Hanbalite, wrote in Arabic to warn the 
true believers against the logic of the Greeks, 20 the no less godly Puritan 
missionary Eliot wrote in Algonquin to bring the knowledge of God's 
logic to the Amerindians. 21 

Thus in neither political nor cultural terms could Calvinism destroy 
what went before it. 22 This is not of course to say that Calvinism was in 
cither respect conservative. But its endogenous character, its lack of any 
deeply distinctive content in terms of which to set itself apart, forced its . 
revolutionary energies into a remarkable strenuousness of style: if in terms of 
the roles to be enacted there was nothing very new under the Calvinist sun, 
the novelty had perforce to reside in the distinctive godliness of the 
enactment. God had no choice but to love adverbs. 23 And since purity is a 
mere demanding basis for a religious community than ethnicity, the 
Calvinists had to work for their identity in a way that the Muslims did not ; 
so where a truth and a genealogy were enough for Muhammad, Calvin 
had to generate an ideology and work ethic. 

Now what there was for this strenuousness to operate on was the political 
and cultural resources of Renaissance Europe. For just as late medieval 
Europe was a world committed to a Hebraic God but only imperfectly as- 
similated to his image, so also it was a world committed to the concepts of 
the Greeks but only imperfectly assimilated to their logic. Being merely 
Christian, sixteenth-century Europe could still be shaken to its. roots by a- 
Reformation; but equally, being merely Christian, it could still have a 
Renaissance. Islam, by contrast, itself a new religion and a new civilisation, 
had neither. And since the values of modern politics and modern science 
were in fundamental ways the outcome of the interaction of Renaissance 
and Reformation, it follows that the conceptual mechanisms through which 
they were engendered were inconceivable in the Islamic world. For where- 
as in the east the tightening of the Hebraic meshes with the coming of 


The austerity of Islamic history 

Islam tended to eliminate concepts altogether, in the west the tightening of 
die meshes with the rise of Calvinism had the effect of making them more 
pervasive than ever before. 

In the case of the origins of radical politics, the point is worth making 
both historically and socially. Historically, the shared insistence of Islam 
and Calvinism on the immediate relationship of the believer to his God is 
a powerful solvent of the legitimacy of all intervening political structures. 
But whereas in Islam the force of this was to clear the world in favour of an 
arbitrary and illegitimate sultan, Calvinism neither could nor did give rise 
to a comparable ethical vacuum. Its destructive force was thus applied in 
favour of other political values: initially a fundamentalism of ancient con- 
stitutions, 24 ultimately a philosophy of futuristic concepts. 25 Socially, the 
shared insistence of Islam and Calvinism on the unitariness of the relation- 
ship of all believers to their God is a powerful solvent of the old Hellenic 
insulation of elite and masses in its etiolated Christian guise. But again the 
Islamic and Calvinist outcomes were in the long run diametrically opposed. 
The rise of Islam, confirmed in due course by the Sunni revival, led to the 
spiritual conquest of the elite by an increasingly jealous God ; but the rise of 
Calvinism, inverted in due course by secularisation, led to the intellectual 
conquest of the masses by increasingly intransigent concepts. 26 Where the 
Islamic rejection of the priesthood meant the collapse of the philosophers, 
the post-Calvinist secularisation of the priesthood of all believers meant 
that philosophers became fishers of men : 27 against the quiedy obscurantist 
politics of the sultanate, we have the actively rationalist politics of revolu- 
tion. 28 It is only in the remoteness of tribal Arabia, with its endemic relig- 
ious activism, that the two histories of puritanism have come to display a 
certain measure of convergence. The theistic egalitarianism of the 
Kharijites of the medieval Hadramawt and the conceptual egalitarianism 
of their contemporary Maoist avatars do, after all, share the same doctrin- 
aire hatred for the family of the Arabian Prophet. 

In its cognitive aspect the contrast exhibits one of the necessary condi- 
tions for the development of modern science. Modern science rests on a 
tense relationship between the mad conclusions of speculative reason which 
allege that the earth is round, and the commonsense observations of human 
perception which show that it is obviously flat. The cultivation of specula- 
tive reasoning typically issues in a plurality of philosophical madhhabs, 
schools coexisting in diversity and thriving on the issue of indulgences to 
matter for its deplorably sublunar behaviour; while conversely empiricism 
tends to find its embodiment in musnaas, catalogues devoted to the mind- 
less listing of mere particulars. Neither the one nor the other in itself 
amounts to science; to generate science the laws of heaven and earth have 
to merge. 


The collision 

Both the European and the Islamic worlds inherited the concept of im : 
mutable celestial laws from the Greeks, together with the main doctrines 
of the Hellenic philosophical schools. But since in Islam such a concept 
could be taken seriously only in heretical circles, the pursuit of speculative 
reasoning in a Muslim environment, however impressive by the standards 
of medieval Europe, had ultimately to fall short of the level achieved in 
the Renaissance. Face to face with a hostile orthodox world, the energies 
of the Muslim philosophers were preempted by the defence of the very 
notion that the universe is endowed with a logos; they were in no position 
to take the existence of this logos for granted and go on to search out the 
secret of its inner workings. On the one hand orthodox hostility induced 
the philosophers to patch up rather than exploit the differences between 
Plato and Aristode in order to present a united front; 29 and on the other 
it produced an unmistakable tendency for philosophical doctrines to 
slither to the cognitive right: Epicureanism, such as it was, had already lost 
much of its materialist nerve to go Neoplatonic, 30 while Neoplatonism it- 
self lost much of its speculative nerve to go occult. 31 Where the mathem- 
aticisation of the universe in the thought of Galileo marked the triumph of 
speculative reason in Europe, Islamic speculation in the mystical propor- 
tion of numbers marked the flight of reason to the esoteric wisdom of the 
imam. 32 

Conversely, both the European and Islamic worlds inherited from the 
Jews the notion that God is responsible for each of the particulars observ- 
able on earth. 33 But since Christianity had never taken the notion seriously 
on any scale, fundamentalism in a ChrLtian environment, however impres- 
sive it might be by the standards of medieval Catholicism, had ultimately 
to do without the foundation it possessed in Islam. Calvin could of course 
insist that 'no wind ever rises or blows, but by the special command of 
God', 34 a rejection of the materialistic meteorology of the Milesians 35 
as fundamental as any in Islam ; but in practice he could no more delete the 
category of nature from the Christian universe than the Muslim philoso- 
phers could save it for theirs. Had the Protestants been able to operate 
exclusively with scripture, Calvin might have followed the Muslim fun- 
damentalists in condeming 'he who would learn astronomy and other re- 
condite arts' as an incipient unbeliever; but the Protestants having a book 
of nature alongside their book of God, the potential unbeliever had simply 
to 'go elsewhere'. 36 Conversely a Francis Bacon without the book of 
nature would have possessed exactly the combination of vast learning and 
mistrust of Aristotelian philosophy to make an Ibn Hazm harping on the 
vices of analogy as applied to God's words ; but instead he 'went elsewhere' 
to harp on the virtues of induction as applied to God's works. Ultimately 
the Protestants had to adopt a dual occasionalism: they could abolish the 


The austerity of Islamic history 

laws of grace, but they could only make the laws of nature more inscrutable. 

Now it was precisely the taking over of a mathematical universe by 
Protestant empiricists which closed the cosmic meshes : mere facts could no 
'longer slip through the net spread out by speculative reason. Henceforth 
esoteric reason and exoteric matter were to subscribe to the same scientific 
creed, and nature was to be catechised, or put to experimental torture, to 
force it to give empirical evidence against common sense. 37 So where the 
meeting of the Hellenic and Hebrew heritages in the east produced Islamic 
occasionalism, in the west it issued in European science. And this cog- 
nitive contrast has also its social analogue: where Muslim fundamentalism 
found its social embodiment in the lawyer merchant who resigns his will to 
God, uncertain of the universe but assured that the law leads to salvation, 38 
the dual occasionalism of the Protestants led ultimately to a society which 
resigned the will of God to capitalists and experimental scientists. If Islam, 
thank God, has no need of logic whatever, Europe, thanks to science, had 
no need of God whatever. 39 

•Islamic history thus precluded that tightening of the meshes whereby 
political concepts merged with economic realities to produce modern poli- 
tics, and celestial concepts with earthly realities to produce modern science. 
But it equally precluded the compensatory widening of the meshes of 
identity wherein Europe sought relief from the discomforting narrowing of 
those of truth: Islam could not engender nationalism. It could not do so 
because Islam and nationalism represent different and mutually exlusive 
things a tradition can do with its barbarians. Europe had kept its classical 
culture, its Judaic God and its barbarian invaders conceptually distinct ; and 
it was accordingly in a position to call upon its barbarian ancestors to 
provide the' historical sanction for the existence of a plurality of nations 
within a shared community of truth. Gentiles to their Judaic faidi and 
gentiles to their Graeco-Roman civilisation, the inhabitants of Germany 
were free to be Germans to themselves. 40 It was thus appropriately in the 
period in which the west was seeking to restore the pristine condition of 
its religion and culture that Europe north of the Alps set about refur- 
bishing its barbarian genealogies. 41 But Islam in contrast had fused its 
barbarian invaders with both its religion and its culture: 42 on the one 
hand it sanctioned only one nation, the umma, and on the other it precluded 
the manipulation of non-Arab genealogies as legitimate titles to a distinct 
identity within this umma. The heterogeneity of the Muslim world was real 
enough; but it was not till the reception of nationalism from Europe that 
it became possible to construe this Islamic vice as a western virtue. So 
where Europe developed secular nationalism, Islam could generate only the 
religious nationalism of the Arabs and the irreligious Shu'ubism of the 


The collision 

Europe thus had .three origins to return to, the Islamic world only one: 
to Reformation, Renaissance and nationalism, Islam can oppose only 
Salafiyya, the return to the unitary religion, culture and ethnicity of the 
righteous ancestors. 43 The interacting reactions of European history issued 
in a modernity which has engulfed the world ; the unitary reaction of Islam 
ill the Wahhabism of the inner Arabian wilderness. 

In itself, of course, .the lack of a plurality of origins is no bar to a rich 
diversity of cultural meanings : witness the historical depth of the nor- 
mative Chinese past, or the qualitative range of the religious tradition of 
India 44 But the Arabs did not take millennia to evolve a civilisation of 
their own in relative isolation from the rest of the world; and the con- 
ditions in which they went into action meant that Islamic civilisation 
attained a more or less definitive, and to a considerable degree negative, 
self-definition at an early stage in its belated history. To that extent 
Islamic history had but one thing to say, and had said it rather early 
m the day. Its single message was moreover in some ways a very dis- 
comforting one. The Hagarenes had made the mistake of conquering 
the world in the name of Judaic values. Having conquered the world, 
they could neither hope to be redeemed in it in the manner of the Jews, 
nor reject it outright to be saved in another in the manner of the 
Christians. And having conquered civilisation, they could neither as- 
similate it in the manner of the Christians nor insulate themselves 
against it in the manner of the Jews. Neither their redemption nor their 
civilisation could ever quite come to fruition. 

Yet the appeal of Islam, its capacity to carry conviction in the lives of its 
innumerable adherents, is as real as, in the terms considered so far, it might, 
seem puzzling. The appeal can of course to some extent be explained away. 
In the first place, the attraction of so uncomfortable a synthesis is in con- 
siderable measure to be explained in terms of one of the key forces which 
bad brought it into being, the force of conquest. Initially the point is ob- 
vious, and subsequently also it was through conquest that a great deal of 
what is now the Islamic world was brought to Islam. But it would be naive 
to try to explain the continuing appeal of Islam as a world religion simply 
by the fact that, once set in motion, it was hard to stop. In the second place, 
it is historically of no small importance that Islam has preserved certain 
escapes from its own discomforts. The redemption which has aborted in 
orthodox Islam can still be pursued in the mahdism of the Shi'ites and the 
backlands ; the civilisation which orthodox Islam has repressed can still be 
cultivated in the culturally more permissive milieux of Shi'ism and Sufism. 
And at the same time the religious character of the Islamic polity, so ill- 


The austerity of Islamic history 

represented in the tawdry realities of the Muslim state, has retained an 
intermittent vitality in the violent confrontation of Islam with the infidel. 
But again, the existence of escape routes from the oppressiveness of 
the Islamic tradition is hardly sufficient to account for its continued 

The locus of this appeal must to some extent lie in an area which lias so 
far evaded the concerns of this book: the world of men in their families. 
This is of course an aspect of human life which any religion, other than one 
of total renunciation, must make some sense of; and Christianity and 
Judaism are no exceptions. And yet the meaning they can infuse into this 
domain is in each case a significantly relative one. In Christianity, die 
familial present is emptied of religious meaning by the hope of future 
salvation, and the pervasiveness of sin which gives that salvation its 
anxiously precarious quality renders all familial life necessarily and radically 
corrupt. It is characteristic of Christianity to have founded its religious 
institutions in the premiss of the corruptness of marriage. In Judaism these 
effects are far less pronounced, but they are still detectable: on the one 
hand the religious meaning of the familial present is relativised by the hope 
of national redemption in the future, and on the other hand it is undermined 
by the austerity of a law that is incapable of full execution in ordinary 
life. If the appropriate traditional fate of the Christian girl was the nun- 
nery, the appropriate modern fate of the Jewish girl is the Israeli army. 
In both Christianity and Judaism, the means of grace are too uncertain or 
exacting, and the hope of glory too vivid, to make it possible for the 
life of the family to constitute an absolute domain of the sacred in this 

The Muslims by contrast have neither the Jewish hope of redemption in 
this wOrld nor the anxiety of the Christians over their prospects of sal- 
vation in the next ; and the yoke of their law is one which, at die level of the 
family, men can actually bear. 45 So while the Jews live out the indignity 
of refugees awaiting repatriation, and Christians engage in their undig- 
nified scramble for salvation, Islam can at least make available to the 
Muslims in their families a resigned and dignified calm. Ibn Hanbal would 
not have climbed a palm tree after a pretty girl in the manner of Rabbi 
Akiva; but neither did he need to climb a pillar in pursuit of God in the 
manner of St Simeon Stylites. The resulting emotional repertoire of Islamic 
culture was a decidedly unromantic one. There are no parallels in Islam 
to the emotive potentialities which make it possible to find in Marxism a 
secularisation of messianic Judaism and in Freudianism a secularisation of 
Protestant Christianity; the only obverse to the grapitas of the Muslims is 
the giggling of their womenfolk. But the compensation is very real, and has 
meaning for the everyday lives of ordinary men. The public order of Islamic 


The collision 

society collapsed long ago; but the take-over of family life by slave-girls 
was by no means as far-reaching as the takeover of public life by mamluks. 
The sanctity which had fled the public domain thus found security in its 
private refuge: the Muslim mosque points across the desert to Mecca, but 
the Muslim house contains its qibla within itself. It is perhaps the last 
residue of the Islamic conquests that the Muslims can at least be at home 
in their own homes. 



'Lex Fufia Caninia was enacted in the reign of Augustus to restrict the mass 
manumissions by bequest in which Roman slave owners had indulged by way of 
self-glorification. It stipulated that the owner of up to two slaves could free both, 
of two to ten one half, of ten to thirty one third, of thirty to a hundred one fourth, 
and of a hundred to five hundred one fifth. Under no circumstances were the slaves 
so freed to exceed one hundred. They had to be named and would be freed in order 
of priority if the testator had exceeded the legal limit. The law was repealed by 
Justinian. (Gaius, Institutiones, \:^it; Ulpian, Liber regularuvi, i:24f; Iulius 
Paulus, Sententiae, iv:i 5 ; Corpus iuris civilis. Codex, vii:3, cf. Institutiones, For 
other details see W. W. Buckland, The Roman Law of Slavery, Cambridge 1908, 
pp. 54 6f.) 

The law appears in the fifth-century Syro- Roman lawbook, and whatever notic e 
' may have been taken of Justinian's contrary enactment in sixth-century Syria, it 
survived in the Middle East when in due course the fifth-century code became the 
standard source of Christian civil law. All recensions published so far quote the law 
correcdy, though all omit the case of a hundred to five hundred slaves as well as 
some other details. AH pay an unprecedented attention to the case of three slaves 
and note that two may be freed, evidently to establish the point that when 
arithmetic decrees the freeing of half a slave the law is to be interpreted liberally 
(K. G. Bruns and E. Sachau (ed. and tr.), Syrisch-romiscbes Rechtsbuch am. dim 
fiinften Jabrbundert, Leipzig 1880, L§4, P§24, Ar§22, Arm§24; Sachau, 
Syrische Recbtsbikber, voL i, RI:i 4 f, RII.-22, RIII.4; new manuscripts havebeen 
discovered but not yet edited, cf. A Voobus, 'Important Manuscript Discoveries 
for the Syro-Roman Law Book', Journal of Near Eastern Studies 1973, PC. 

But if. we turn to the Christians of Persia, it is a much etiolated version of the 
law that we find in the Corpus iuris of Isho'bokht, compiled probably about a d. 
775 (Sachau, Syriscbe Recbtsbucher, vol. iii, p. ix). According to Isho'bokht, "it 
is written thus in the law of the Romans about male and female slaves : "a man may 
manumit a third of his slaves" ; but he may not manumit the portions falling to his 
wife and sons [sc. children] because one third belongs to him, another to his wife 
and another to his sons' (ibid., p. 177). 

Three things have happened to the law on export to the Nestorians. In the first 
place, the complex gradations have given way to a hard and fast rule that only a 
third may befreed, presumably by inversion of the case whichreceives most attention 
in the Syro-Roman original. (For the influence of the Syro-Roman lawbook or, 


Appendix II 

Isho'bokht see ibid., p. xi.) In the second place, the law has received a completely 
new rationale which, as noted by Sachau {ibid., p. 334), cannot be Roman. It is 
almost certainly Zoroastrian: Zoroastrian law placed restrictions on testamentary 
dispositions in the interest of the heirs, and prohibited gifts in death sickness out- 
tight ('The Dsufistan-j Dunk', tr. West, chapter 54, in Pahlavi Texts, part two, 
pp. iSjff; only payments of debts, maintenance and certain types of charity are 
permitted in death sickness). Isho'bokht has of course completely omitted refer- 
ence to bequests ; but on the one hand Roman law placed no restrictions on manu- 
mission inter vivos, and on the other Zoroastrian law placed no restrictions on 
gifts during health (ibid., p. 1 84), so that there can be no doubt that it is manumis- 
sion in death sickness or by bequest that Isho'bokht has in mind. Finally, 
isho'bokht rejects the law not because Justinian has repealed it, a fact of which he 
U unaware, but because, without denying the rights of wife and children, he thinks 
that the father knows best what is in their interest (Sachau, Syrische Rethtsbiicher, 
vol. iii, p. 177). The law which Isho'bokht describes is thus neither Roman, 
Persian nor Nestorian law, but nobody's law. Hence it was very easy to turn it 
into Muslim law. 

Muslim law restricts both gifts in death sickness and legacies to a third of the 
net estate, and Schacht has dated this provision to the Umayyad period (Origins, 
pp. zoif; for a different view see N. J. Coulson, A History of Islamic Law, 
Edinburgh 1964, pp. 65ff). This is not straight Persian law: the Zoroastrians, 
?.s noted, prohibited gifts in death sickness altogether. Nor is it straight Roman 
law: the Romans did place restrictions on both legacies and donat tones mortis 
■ansa, but the restrictions left a liberal right to dispose of three quarters of the net 
estate. Nor is it at all Jewish law: on the one hand the Jews did not know the 
testament, and where the Muslims restricted gifts to protect the scriptural heirs, 
-he Jews had adopted gifts to circumvent their rights ; and on the other hand, the 
Amoraim had decided that a gift in death sickness had by definition to dispose 
of the entire estate (R. Yaron, Gifts in Contemplation of Death in Jewish and 
Raman Law, Oxford i960, pp. 851T). That we have to do with Isho'bokht 's 
non-law, or in other words with the Persian law of gifts and bequests conflated 
with the Roman law of manumission, is suggested above all by the fact that the 
classic tradition on which the Muslim law is based describes a case of manu- 
mission: it has a dying man manumit the six slaves who are his only property, 
whereupon the governor of Medina draws lots and sets free only two (Schacht, 
Origins, pp. zoif); and other traditions establishing the same point are all 
variations on the same theme of manumission. Now manumission does of course 
count as a gift or bequest, but it is by no means an obvious example to choose in 
illustration of a principle of succession. Moreover, Muslim lawyers devoted a 
quite disproportionate amount of energy to the question whether it was the 
drawing of lots or priority that was to determine what slaves were to be freed 
when the testator had exceeded the legal limit; disproportionate, that is, if they 
had not had their doubts as to whether it was the law of munumission or the law of 
succession that was involved. Both the figure of one third and the doubts find a 
readv explanation if we assume that the Muslims borrowed their law from the 
Nestorians. Isho'bokht 's compilation is of course very late, but there is con- 


Lex Fufia Caninia 

versely no reason to think that he borrowed his non-law from the Muslims. In the 
first place, it is not surprising that Christians practising Roman law in Persia 
should mix up a Roman law restricting manumissions to protect the ingenui and a 
Persian law restricting bequests to protect the heirs; whereas despite the fact that 
the Roman law happened to involve testaments, there is no good reason why the 
Muslims should have got the two laws mixed up unless the confusion was one 
which they inherited. In the second place, Isho'bokht was clearly trying to codify 
customary law (cf. Sachau, Syrische Rechtsbiicher, vol. iii, p. xi), and there is nothing 
to suggest that his substantive provisions are new. In the third place, he is quite 
explicit that his legal creation is Roman. And finally, there is not the slightest 
trace of Muslim influence elsewhere in his provisions. 

This case provides a particularly apt illustration of the assistance which pro- 
vincial etiolation accorded the Muslims thanks to the contrast that can be drawn 
with the Jews. The Jewish rabbis borrowed their law of gifts in contemplation of 
death from Greek and Graeco-Egyptian law ; but neither had suffered an etiolation 
comparable to that undergone by Roman law among the Nestorians, and it took 
prolonged rabbinic sifting before the foreign borrowings had been completely 
transformed. The matnat shekjoiv mera can thus still be traced back via the deyatiqi 
to the Greek diatheke (Yaron, Gifts, pp. i8ff, 46ff ). But the Muslim rabbis bor- 
rowed a provincial hybrid, and thereby acquired what appears as a peculiar Arab 
treasure right from the start. 

Two points are perhaps worth adding here about the relationship of Roman to 
Islamic law in general. The first is a methodological reservation. It is no secret 
that elements common to Roman and Islamic law tend to crop up in Jewish 
law as well (see for example Schacht, 'Droit byzantin et droit musulman', p. 202 ; 
the point is reinforced by the materials adduced in B. Cohen, Jewish and Roman 
Lay: A Comparative Study, New York 1966, pp. 734—6). The tendency to 
treat such cases as instances of direct Roman influence on Islamic law is there- 
fore somewhat arbitrary. Historically, of course, the roles of Jews and Nestorians 
in processing substantive Roman law for assimilation into Islam are more or 
less interchangeable. The second point is by way of buttressing our argument 
regarding the relationship of Islamic to Jewish jurisprudence (see above, pp. 30—2, 
37f). There are certainly parallels here between Roman and Islamic conceptions 
(thus for custom abrogating law, see Corpus iuris civilis, Digest, i : 3 , 32); but the 
Islamic notions are much closer to the Jewish. Thus the 'unwritten law* of the 
Romans is a literal, not an epistemological category, and its substance is coter- 
minous with custom (see H. F. Jolovicz and B. Nicholas, Historical Introduction 
to. the Study of Roman Law*, Cambridge 1972, p. 353); the Jewish and Muslim 
sense that the tradition of the jurists is an intrinsically oral one, and the con- 
sequent misgivings about committing it to writing, have thus no Roman equi- 
valent. Likewise the closest Roman parallels to the ijma of the scholars (cf. above, 
p. 180, n. 11, where the term opinio prudentium seems to be a coinage of Gold- 
ziher's) represent the imposition of imperial decision-procedures, not principles 
of the jurists themselves {ibid., pp. 362, 452). 



Where page references are given in the form 'pp. 12 = 3 7 ', the first figure refers 
to the original text and the second to the translation. 


1. This position is already implicit in the approaches which characterise 
Goldziher's critique of the authenticity of hadith and Schacht's investigation of 
the origins of Islamic law. Incidentally, Schacht's reconstruction of die earliest 
form of Muslim historiography is confirmed by the earliest extant historical papy- 
rus fragment (see his note in Arabica 1969 and below, p. 160, n. 56). 

2. N. Bonwetsch (ed.), Doctrina Iacobi nuper baptirtgti, in Abhandlungen der 
Koniglichen Gesellschaft der Wissenscbaften iff Gbttingen, Philologisch-historische 
Klasse, n.s., vol. xii, Berlin 1910. 

3. See F. Nau, 'La Didascalie de Jacob', in R. Graffin and F. Nau (eds.), 
Patrologia Orientate, Paris 1903— , vol. viii, pp. 71 The lack of hindsight in 
respect of the outcome of the Arab invasion would suggest that Nau's date of 
640 is certainly too late. 

4. Doctrina, pp. 86f. 

5. See A. J. Wensinck et al., Concordance et indices de la tradition musulmane, 
Leyden 1933—69, s.v. miftah, where die key(s) of paradise are prayer and the 

6. 'I anathematise the secret doctrine of the Saracens and promise of Moamed 
that he would become the gatekeeper (kleidoukhos) of paradise . . .' (E. Montet, 
'Un rituel d 'abjuration des Musulmans dans l'eglise grecque', Revue de I'histoire 
des religions 1906, p. 151). The oath seems to be a ninth-century compilation of 
heterogeneous materials. 

7. The earliest confirmation is that of the 'Continuatio Byzantia Arabica', 
which preserves in Latin translation a Syrian chronicle dating from early in the 
reign of Hisham (see below, p. 1 79, n. 9) and presumably of Melchite or Jacobite 
origin: according to this source, the Saracens invaded the provinces of Syria, 
Arabia and Mesopotamia while under the rule of Mahmet (T. Mommsen (ed.), 
Chronica Minora, vol. ii (= Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquis- 
simi, vol. xi), Berlin 1 894, p. 3 3 7). Otherwise the most important testimony on 
the Jacobite side is the archaic account of the origins of Islam preserved by 
Michael the Syrian (J.-B. Chabot (ed. and tr.), Chronique de Michel le Syrien, 


Notes to pp. 4— j 

Paris 1899— 1910, vol. iv, p. 405 = vol. ii, pp. 40 31"); to this may be added an 
anonymous Syriac chronicle of the later eighth century (I. Guidi et al., Chronica 
Minora (= Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Scriptores Syri, 
third series, vol. iv), Louvain 1903—7, pp. 348 = 274). On the Nestorian side 
the belated witness of the Arabic Chronicle of Si'ird is explicit (A. Scher (ed. and 
tr.), Histoire nestorienne, part two, in Patrologia Orientalis, vol. xiii, p. 60 1), while 
a Syriac chronicle probably written in Khuzistan in the 670s suggestively slips in 
a mention of Muhammad as the ruler of the Arabs in the middle of an account of the 
conquests {Chronica Minora, pp. 30 = 26; the dating is that of T. Noldeke, 
'Die von Guidi herausgegebene syrische Chronik', Sitqtngsbericbte der philohgisch- 
historischen Classe der Kaiserlichen. Akademk der Wissenschaften, vol. cxxviii, 
Vienna 1893, pp. zf). On the Samaritan side we have the testimony of a medieval 
Arabic recension of the tradition (E. Vilmar (ed.), Ahulfathi Annates Samaritani, 
Gotha 1865, p. 180). The convergence is impressive. 

8. See above, p. 24. 

9. It also finds a confused reflection in the prominence in Theophanes' account 
of the beginnings of Islam of Jews who take Muhammad to be their expected 
Christ {Chronographia, AM. 6122). 

10. For the Hebrew text, see A. Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrasch, Leipzig 1855, 
vol. iii, pp. 78—82; for a discussion and partial translation, B. Lewis, 'An 
Apocalyptic Vision of Islamic History', Bulletin of the School of Oriental and 
African Studies 1950. 

11. Lewis, 'Apocalyptic Vision', p. 323. 

12. Lewis, 'Apocalyptic Vision', pp. 32lf, with commentary at pp. 322—4. 
We have slighdy modified the translation. 

1 3,. The reference is to Is. 21:7: 'And he saw a troop with a pair of horsemen, 
a troop of asses, and a troop of camels.' The dislocation of the sense in the rest of 
the passage disappears once it is realised that the original author of the apocalypse 
was wo'rking from the Targum, not from the Hebrew as in the text as we now 
have it. Where the Hebrew speaks of 'a pair of horsemen, a troop of asses, a troop 
of camels', the Targum has 'a pair of horsemen, one riding on an ass, one riding on 
a camel'. This suggests that the original of this passage of the 'Secrets' was in 

14. • Sc. the prophet, the rider on the ass being of course the messiah. 

1 5. See above, pp. 3 5—7. 

16. Hebrew text in L. Ginzberg, Geniya Studies in memory of Doctor Solomon 
Schechter, vol. i, New York 1928, pp. 310— 12; discussion and translation in B. 
Lewis, 'On that day: A Jewish apocalyptic poem on the Arab conquests', in P. 
Salmon (ed.), Melanges d'Islamologie, Leyden 1974- Here the role of the Arabs 
in the overthrow of Roman rule {ibid., p. 199) is quite distinct from the properly 
messianic events- (p. 200). 

17. See H. Gressmann, Der Messias, Gottingen 1929, pp. 449ft", withreference 
to the Jerusalem Talmud and parallel versions. Compare also the habit of Elijah 


Notes to pp. j—f 

(whose role the prophet of the Doctrina is playing) of appearing in the guise of a 
desert Arab (The Jewish Encyclopedia 1 , New York and London 1925, art. 
'Elijah'). ' ■ 

1 8. His historicity is not in doubt: he is clearly the king of the Ishmaelites who 
presides over the conquest of Egypt and other territories in the early Armenian 
chronicle of Sebeos (F. Mader (tr.), Histoire d'He'radius par I'Eveque Sebeos, 
Paris 1904, p. 1 01 ; for the Armenian original, see below, p. ij6,n. 30,andforthe 
date of the chronicle, below, p. 1 j 7, n. 36). His name is however given as Amr : 
cither Sebeos (and other Christian sources) conflated 'Umar and 'Amr (b. al-'As), 
or. conceivably, they were dissimilatcd within the Islamic tradition. 

19. Cf. J. Levy, Neuhebraisches und chaldaisches Worterbuch iiber die Tal- 
mudim und Midraschim, Leipzig 1876—89, s.v. paroqa. But 'Umar is never 
designated masih (except in a curious reference to him as faruq-i mesih in the 
Nasa'ih al-wurqtra of San Mehmed Pasha, ed. W. L. Wright, Ottoman State- 
craft, Princeton, N. J. 1935, text, p. 53). 

20. Cf. also Sayf's tradition that 'Umar on his fourth visit to Syria entered it 
riding on an ass (Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, Ta'rikk al-rusul wa'l-muluk,,. 
cd. M. J. de Goeje et ah, Leyden 1879— 190 1, series I, p. 2401). 

2 1 . The passage on 'the second king who arises from IshmaeT (Lewis, 'Apo- 
calyptic Vision', pp. 3 24f ) begins by stating that he 'will be a lover of Israel; he 
restores their breaches and the breaches of the temple'. This certainly suggests an 
earlier if slightly edited reference to 'Umar. The continuation however becomes 
less appropriate to 'Umar (cf. ibid., p. 328), suggesting a dislocation of the 
historical structure of the apocalypse at this point. For the Arabs on the Temple 
Mount, see also above, p. 10. 

22. Tabari, Ta'rikh, I, pp. 2728^ Muhammad ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat 
al-kabir, ed. E. Sachau et al., Leyden 1904—21, vol. iii, pp. i93f. 

23. For the Damascene Jew who hails 'Umar as the faruq who will take. 
Jerusalem see Tabari, Ta'rikh, I, p. 2403. For the Jewish messianic prophecy of 
the coming of the faruq which Ka'b al-Ahbar applies to 'Umar in Jerusalem, ibid., 
p. 2409. Cf. also the messianic flavour of KaVs assertion that 'Umar was 
described in the Torah as an iron hom (M. J. Kister, 'Haddithu 'an ban! isra'ila 
wa-la haraja', Israel Oriental Studies 1972, p. 223). 

24. Even on the site of the temple, he insists on the unambiguous affirmation 
of the Islamic qibla (Tabari, Ta'rikh, I, p. 2408; Abu 'Ubayd al-Qasim b. 
Sallim, Kitab al-amwal, ed. M K. Haras, Cairo 1968, no. 430). He renews the 
prohibition of Jewish residence in Jerusalem (Tabari, Ta'rikh, I, p. 240}), an act 
unattested in any early source and unlikely to be historical, and expels the Jews 
from Arabia (see above, p. 24). The point of the rather poindess tradition which 
makes 'Umar the progenitor of Islamic mahdism by virtue of his belief in the 
return of the Prophet (ibid., pp. 181 jf) perhaps lay originally in the neatness with 
which 'Umar is made to deny his own messianic status. — y* 

2 5 . Note particularly the reference to the rejoicing of the Jews (Doctrina, p. 86). 


Notes to p. 6 

26. Note for instance the hostility towards the Ishmaelites that finds expres- 
sion in the ninth-century Pirkf de Rabbi Elietgr, tr. G. Friedlander, London 1916, 
pp. 231, 350. But the most striking example of the change of attitude is plausibly 
provided by the passage in the 'Secrets' which follows immediately after the mes- 
sianic interpretation quoted above: in contrast to the previous use of Is. 21 17 
to present the Ishmaelites as the salvation of Israel, the fiscal and agricultural 
policies of the conquerors are now related to Dan. 11:39 Ez. 4:1 3 respec- 
tively, with the result that the Ishmaelites are cast as the iniquitous oppressors of 
an exilic Israel. The impression that we have here a later attempt to neutralise the 
messianism of the preceding passage is reinforced by the abrupt change of 
authority which takes place: the messianic interpretation of Is. 21:7 is com- 
municated to Rabbi Simon by Metatron in the course of an eschatological vision 
in a cave, whereas the more sober observations which follow are transmitted by 
him from Rabbi Ishmael, one of the leading rabbinic authorities of the previous 
generation. In the later 'Ten Kings', the vision in the cave is 'rabbinicised' along 
the same lines (Lewis, 'Apocalyptic Vision', pp. 3 2 1 — 3 ; the process is adumbrated 
in the Geniza fragment of the 'Secrets' referred to ibid., p. 309^. 

27. For Patriarch Sophronius of Jerusalem (634—8) the invaders are godless 
barbarians (see his synodical episde of 634 in J. P. Migne, Patrologia Graeco- 
Latina, Paris 1857—66, vol. lxxxvii, part three, col. 3197, and his Christmas 
sermon of the same year in H. Usener (cd.). 'Weihnachtspredigt des Sophronios', 
Rheinisches Museum fur Pbilologie 1886, pp. 507, 514); in a sermon on baptism 
he gives a lurid catalogue of Saracen misdeeds (A. I. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, 
Analekta Hierosolymitikes stakhyologias, St Petersburg 1 891—8, vol. v, pp. i67f ). 
Maximus the Confessor in one of his episdes displays a similar attitude towards 
the uncouth barbarian invaders (PG, vol. xci, cols. 54of, dated to 634—40 in P. 
Sherwood, An Annotated Date-List of the Works of Maximus the Confessor 
(= Studia Anselmiana, fasc. xxx), Rome 1952, pp. 4of). Characteristically 
both interpret the invasion as a punishment for the sins of the Christians. In- 
cidentally, the way in which Maximus speaks of the barbarians overrunning the 
land of others as though it were their own, and of the role of the Jews in the 
coming of Antichrist, suggests that he may have been aware of the irredentist 
and messianic character of the conquest; but the elevation of his style is such 
mat this is unclear. 

28. From the Copts, we have a savage reference to the Saracen invaders in a 
homily probably composed soon after the conquest (H. de Vis (ed. and tr.), 
Homelies copies de la Vaticane, vol. ii (= Coptica, vol. v), Copenhagen 1929, 
pp. 62, 1 00); later in the century John of Nikiu states in his account of the conquest 
that the Muslim yoke was 'heavier than the yoke which had been laid on Israel 
by Pharaoh' (R. H. Charles (tr.), The Chronicle of John, Bishop ofNikfu, London 
1916, p. 195). There is also a Coptic papyrus which refers to the sufferings of the 
Christians at the hands of the infidel Saracens and Blemmyes, who appear to have 
seized the churches (E. Revillout, 'Memoire sur les Blemmyes', Memoires pre- 
sents par divers savants a I'Acade'mie des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres 1874, pp. 
402—4; Revillout dates the papyrus to the pre-Islamic period on rather weak 


Notes to p. 6 

grounds). From the Nestorian side, we have the vague but catastrophic terms in 
which Sahdona, probably writing in the mid-seventh century, refers to what must 
be the Arab invasion (Martyrius (Sahdona), Oeuvres spirituelles, vol. i, ed. and tr. 
A. de Halleux ( = CSCO, Scriptores Syri, vols, lxxxvif ), Louvain 1 960, pp. 40 = 
41, and pp. vf of the introduction to the translation). Unfortunately we have 
nothing from Jacobite Syria earlier than the late seventh century; Jacob of 
Edessa regards the subjection of the Christians to the Arab yoke as a divine 
punishment, a bondage comparable to that of ancient Judah (Scholia on passages of 
the Old Testament, ed. and tr. G. Phillips, London 1864, pp. 27 = 42). The 
oppressiveness of the Ishmaelite yoke is of course a central theme of the late- 
seventh-century apocalypse of pseudo- Methodius (see below, p. 171, n. 7); but 
it is not clear whether it originated in a heretical or orthodox environment. 

29. Doctrina, p. 88. (An eleventh-century Jewish source has it that there were 
Jews with the Ishmaelite invaders who showed them the site of the sanctuary and 
dwelt with them thereafter, see J. Mann, The Jews in Egypt and in Palestine under 
the Fafimid Caliphs, vol. i, Oxford 1920, p. 4}.) 

30. K'. R. Patkanean (ed.), Patmout'iun Sebeosi Episkpposi i Herakln, St Peters- 
burg 1879, p. 111 = Sebeos, Histoire, p. 1 o 3 . In the context 'governor' seems the 
most appropriate rendering of ishkhan. 

31. Doctrina, p. 88. 

32. H. Delahaye, 'Passio sanctorum sexaginta maityrum', Analecta Bollan- 
diana 1904. : • 

3 3. Sophronius' sermon on baptism, citedabove.p. 1 5 5,n. 27. A Syriac chronicle 
of the early eighth century notes the slaughter of monks at the time of the conquest 
(Chronica Minora, pp. 148 = 114), while the Khuzistanl chronicle attests the 
killing of bishops and other ecclesiastical personnel (ibid., pp. 37 = 3of). In 
Cyrenaica there is archaeological evidence of the deliberate destruction of 
churches by the conquerors ( W. M. Widrig and R. Goodchild, "The West Church 
at Apollonia in Cyrenaica', in Papers of the British School at Rome i960, p. 7 m). 
(It may be added that the late Chronicle of Si'ird states that the Arabs camping at 
Hira on the eve of the battle of Qadisiyya horribly profaned the churches and 
convents (Scher, Histoire nestorienne, p. 627); this testimony stands out against 
the general insistence of the Nestorian tradition on the benevolence of Muhammad 
and his successors towards their community, and may well be early.) 

34. F. Nau (ed.), 'Le texte grec des recits du moine Anastase sur les saints 
peres de Sinai", Oriens Christianas 1902, p. 82 = id. (tr.), 'Les recits ineditsdu 
moine Anastase', Revue de ITnstitut catholique de Paris 1902, pp. 386 

3 5. Sebeos, Histoire, pp. 1 39ft the date would seem to be 65 3 (ibid., p. 132) 
rather than 651 (p. 139). Contrast the recognition of the messianic status of 
Jesus and the Docetic doctrine of the Crucifixion which characterise the Christo- 
logy of the Koran. Note also that the Islamic tradition, despite its acceptance of 
Jesus as the messiah, persists in referring to his followers as 'Nazarenes', a usage 
presumably borrowed from the Jews. 


Notes to pp. 6— j 

36. Sebeos, Histoire, pp. 94—6. The chronicle ends in 661 and was clearly 
written by a contemporary; the question of its true authorship and tide does not 
concern us. The account of the Arab conquests is stated to be based on testimony 
of eyewitnesses who had been held prisoner by the Arabs (p. 102). 

3 7. The name already appears as mwb/md in a contemporary Syriac note on the 
conquest of Syria {Chronica Minora, pp. 75 = 60). 

38. Both prohibitions are Koranic, but only the first is halakhic. The wine 
tabu is attested by Diodorus Siculus (xix :94) for the Nabateans in the late fourth 
century B.C., but it is also a trait of ascetic Judaism (cf. the Rechabites, the Nazirites, 
and St John the Baptist), and one which appears suggestively as being adopted by 
many Jews against the wiser counsels of the rabbis in the period after the des- 
truction of the temple (Babylonian Talmud, Baba Batra, f. 60b). 

39. PERF 5 5 8 is dated in Greek by the indiction year corresponding to 643 
and in Arabic in the form 'year twenty two' (A Grohmann, 'Apercu de papyro- 
logie arabe', Etudes de papyrologie 1932, pp. 4if, 43; it seems clear from the 
plate that the Greek was written first). The dating 'year xvii' on the earliest 
Arab coins of Damascus presumably attests earlier use of die same era, but no 
corresponding Christian date is given (H. Lavoix, Catalogue des monnaies musul- 
manes de la Bibliotheque nationale: Khalifes orientaux, Paris 1887, nos. if). The 
presumption must be that this era marks the foundation of the polity, just as in 
the Islamic tradition. (It is worth noting that without PERF 558 early Islamic 
chronology would be very much at sea. Thus an era starting two or three years 
after that of 622 is suggested by the aberrant chronology of Sayf b. 'Umar and 
of certain Arab-Sasanian coins (for the latter, see A. D. Mordtmann, 'Zur Pehlevi- 
Munzkunde', Zeitscbrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 1879, 
especially p. 97), and a figure of seven or eight (as opposed to ten) years for die 
rule of Muhammad appears in the chronicle of Jacob of Edessa (Chronica Minora, 
pp. 326 = 250), in the eighth-century astrological history of Masha'allah 
(E. S. Kennedy and D. Pingree, The Astrological History of Masha'allah, 
Cambridge, Mass. 1971, p. 132). and is even cited by Maqrizi (H. Lammens, 
'L'age de Mahomet et la chronologie de la Sira', Journal asiatique i9ii,p. 219; 
and cf. the aberrant figure of thirteen years cited from Baladhuri and others, 
ibid., p. 215).) 

40. A number of contemporary sources could be adduced to lend plausibility 
to such a reconstruction. Sebeos himself records the expulsion of the Jews from 
Jerusalem by the Persians {Histoire, p. 69), and in this he is confirmed by the 
Khuzistani chronicle (Chronica Minora, pp. 26 = 23), as well as by later sources. 
A Christian saint fleeing from the Persian investiture of Jerusalem was several 
times in danger of capture by 'Saracens and Hebrews' [C. Houze (ed. and tr.) j, 
'Sancti Georgii Chozebitae confessoris et monachi vita', Anakcta Bollandiana 
1888, p. 1 34; note that flight into Arabia appears as a possible course of action, 
pp. 1 29, 1 3 3). A Jewish apocalypse attests what would be a parallel case of anti- 
Persian messianism in Palestine in 628 (I. Levi, 'L'Apocalypse de Zorobabel et 
le roi de Perse Siroes', Revue des etudes juives 1 914, pp. 135 = 151). But only 
late sources give any explicit indication that the movement was originally directed 


Notes to pp. 7—8 

against the Persians (Thomas Artsruni (tenth-century) interpolates a reference to 
the Persians into an account based on Sebeos, M. Brosset, Collection d'historiens 
armeniens, vol. i, St Petersburg 1874, p. 88; and there is a similar twist in the 
Armenian version of Michael the Syrian, V. Langlois (tr.), Cbronique de Michel 
h Grand, Venice 1868, p. 22 3); Persian devastation of Arabia is however men- 
tioned in a contemporary biography of St John the Almsgiver (E. Dawes and N. H. 
Baynes, Three Bynantine Saints, Oxford 1948, pp. zo^i). 

41. Muhammad ibn Ishiq, Sirat sayyidina Muhammad rasuli 'Hah, ed. F. 
Wiistenfeld, Gottingen 1859^ pp. 54 2 f — id.. The Life of Muhammad, tr. A. 
Guillaume, London 1955, p. 233; Abu 'Ubayd, Kitdb al-amudl, no. 517. This 
feature of the document has been something of a puzzle, see for example J. 
VVellhauscn, 'Muhammads Gemeindeordnung von Medina', in his Skh^fn und 
Vorarbeiten, vol. iv, Berlin 1889, pp. 7 ]f. 

42. Michael the Syrian, Chronique, vol. iv, p. 405 = vol. ii, pp. 40 3f. Contrast 
the more classical doctrinal survey which follows, in which the Ka'ba features 
prominently as the qibla. 

4 3 . Cf. above, p. 1 54, n. 24. A trace of the original Palestinian orientation sur- 
vives in the Islamic tradition with Palestine disguised as Syria': there will be 
junds in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, but the Prophet recommended Syria as the land 
chosen by God for the elect of his servants (Abu Dawud Sulayman b. al-Ash'ath- 
al-Sijistam, Sahib, sunan al-mustafd, Cairo 1348, vol. i, p. 388; cf. Ahmad b. 
Muhammad ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad, Cairo 1313, vol. v. pp. 33f;'Alib. Hasan 
ibn 'Asakir, Tdrikk madinat Dimashq, ed. S. Munajjid, vol. i, Damascus 1951, 
PP- 47-74)- 

44. This fantasy, already enacted by the Dead Sea sectarians, is well represented 
in rabbinic literature (see for example B. Mandelbaum (ed.), Pesikfa de Rav 
Kahana, vol. i, New York 1962, pp. 921", for an early attestation, and J. J.Slotki 
(tr.), Midrash Rahbah: Numbers, vol. i, London 1939, pp. 413^ for a parallel 
passage). It appears in two contemporary apocalypses (Levi, 'L'Apocalypse de 
Zorobabel', pp. 135 note 28 = 151 note 7, 1 36f = 153; Lewis, 'On that day\ 
p, 200), and again in a Syriac account of a Mesopotamian messianic pretender of 
the 730's (I.-B. Chabot (ed.), Incerti auctoris Chronicon pseudo-Dionysianum 
rulgo dictum (= CSCO, Scriptores Syri, vol. liii), Louvain 1933, pp. I73f = id. 
( tr.). Chronique de Denys de Tett-Mahre, Paris. 1895, pp. 26f). 

45. Note the references to the wilderness of Pharan, 'Arebot Moab (Sebeos, 
Hhtoire, p. 96), Jericho (p. 98), and the desert of Sin (p. 101). The references to 
the twelve tribes of Israel also belong well with this context. But these Biblical 
twists may of course reflect nothing more than the literary taste of the chronicler, 
cf. his Ishmaelite ethnography. 

46. It is a rabbinic principle that the last redeemer (i.e. the messiah) will be as 
the first (i.e. Moses), see for example Mandelbaum (ed.), Pesikfa de Rav Kahana, 
p. 92. The parallelism between the two redemptions is of course older then the 
rabbis, cf. Is. 11 :i6. On a more practical note, compare the strongly Mosaic 
resonance of the fifth-century Cretan messianic pretender who led his followers 


Notes to p. 8 

to the sea-shore in the expectation that the waves would part for their crossing 
to Palestine (Socrates Scholasticus, Historia Ecclesiastica, in PG, vol. lxvii, col. 
825). Theeighth-centurypretenderreferredtoabove,p. i58,n.44,actuallyclaimed 
to be Moses himself returning to lead Israel out into the desert and restore them to 
the Promised Land. 

47. A pale reflection of this notion can perhaps be detected in the tradition that 
when Mudar [Isma'3] preferred Iraq to Syria, 'Umar wondered how they could 
have forgotten their Syrian ancestors (Tabari, Tarikf), I, pp. 22 22f). 

48. The idea of an Ishmaelite birthright to the Holy Land is discussed and 
rejected in Genesis Kabbah 61.7 and Babylonian Talmud, Sanbedrin, f. 91a. A 
charter for an Arab religion of Abraham (Ishmaelite and Keturid), including mono- 
theism, circumcision according to the covenant, and some ethico-legal prescrip- 
tion's, appears in Jubilees (R. H. Charles (tr.), The Book.ofJubHees,L,ondon 1902, 
pp. 129-31). 

49. M. van Berchem, Materiaux pour un Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum, 
part two, vol. ii, Cairo 1927, no. 217 {islam appears in no. 215). 

50. The earliest numismatic attestation is of 768 (Lavoix, Catalogue des mon- 
naies musulmanes de la Bibliotbeque nationale: Kbalifes orientaux, nos. iJ54f: 
Mahdi as wait l abd al-muslimin). The earliest appearance of the term in Syriac 
(Mashlemane in the sense of Muslims) that we have seen is in a chronicle of 77 5 
(Chabot (ed.), Chronicon pseudo-Dionysianum, p. 195 = id. (tr.), Cbronique de 
Denys de Tell-Mabre, p. 46). The earliest example in a datable papyrus that 
we have come across is of 793 (PERF 624, see A Grohmann, From the World 
of Arabic Papyri, Cairo 19 J 2, pp. 132, 134). For an instance in a Christian 
Arabic papyrus (PSR 438) that could date from the middle of the eighth century, 
if the editor's reading of the text and estimation of its date are correct, see G. Graf, 
'Christlich-arabische Texte', in F. Bilabel (ed.), Veroffentlichungen aus denbadiscben 
Papyrus-Sammlungen, vol. v, Heidelberg 1934, p. 10. In view of this sparse 
and belated attestation, it is hardly conceivable that the terms islam and muslimun 
served as the primary designations of the faith and its adherents at the time of 
the conquests. 

j 1 . 'Magaritai' : PERF 564 (A. Grohmann, 'Greek Papyri of the Early Islamic 
Period in the Collection of Archduke Rainer', Etudes de papyrologie 1957, pp. 
28f); also PERF 5 j8 of 643 (see above, p. 157, n. 39). 'Mahgre': Isb'yahb III, 
Liber Epistularum, ed. and tr. R. Duval (= CSCO, Scriptores Syri, second series, 
vol. lxiv), Paris 1904^ pp. 97 = 73 (the letter was written while Isho'yahb 
was still a bishop; since he had already become a metropolitan before Maremmeh 
became Catholicus (ibid., pp. 109 = 8 3), it should not be later than the mid-64os). 
'Mahgraye' appears several times in an account of a religious disputation which 
probably took place in 644 (see above, p. 1 1 ): F. Nau, 'Un colloque du Patriarche 
Jean avec 1'emir des Agareens', Journal asiatique 191 5, pp. 248, 251 =257, 
2<5of (cf. the form 'Mahgra' at pp. 252 = 262). The early appearance of the term 
as far afield as Egypt and Iraq is striking. 

52. Though the Arabic vocalisation is not attested until the appearance of the 


Notes to pp. 8-$ 

form 'Moagaritai' in the papyri of Qurrab. Sharik, governor of Egypt in 709— 14 
(H. I. Bell (ed.), The Aphrodito Papyri (= Greek. Papyri in the British Museum, 
vol. iv), London 1910, nos. 1335, 1349. 1394 etc.). 

5 3. But note how even in the language of the universalist 'fiscal rescript' at- 
tributed to 'Umar II, 'to migrate' is hajara in the case of the Arab, but faraqa in 
that of the non-Arab (Abu Muhairmiad'AMallahibn'Abdal-Hakam,5«-rf/'[/«z<jr 
b. 'Abdal-A-qx, ed. Ahmad 'Ubayd, Cairo 1927, pp. 94Q. 

j 4. Colophon dated year 63 of the era of the Mahgraye bnay Ish[ma"il] bar 
Hagar bar Abraham (W. Wright, Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts in the British 
Museum, London 1870, p. 92). 

5 5 . This centrality of the notion of exodus may be compared with the way in 
which the Islamic tradition itself represents hijra as the religious duty which 
islam has replaced. Thus 'A'isha is made to say that the duty of hijra no longer 
obtains now that God has manifested islam (Abu 'Ubayd, Kitdb al-amwdl, no. 
535; Muhammad b. Ismi'U al-Bukhari, Kitdb al-jdmf al-sahih, ed. L. Krehl, 
Leyden 1862— 1908, vol. iii, p. 3 5). The Prophet himself vouches for the super- 
cession of bay'a on hijra by bay a on islam {ibid., vol. ii, pp. 267^ and vol. iii, 
pp. 14 5f ). The background to these traditions is a more general insistence on the 
abrogation of the duty of hijra (see for example Abu 'Ubayd, Kitdb al-amwdl, 
nos. 5 3 1 —4 ; the last counters the denial of salvation to one who does not make the 

56. The inner Arabian biography of the Prophet (Mecca, Quraysh and the 
batde of Badr, but with a slightly deviant chronology) is first attested in a papyrus 
of the late Umayyad period (A. Grohmann, Arabic Papyri from Hirbet el-Mird, 
Louvain 1963, no. 71). No seventh-century source identifies the Arab era as 
that of the hijra. The Arabic material (coins, papyri, inscriptions) consistently 
omits to name the era (the tombstone dated 'year twenty nine of the hijra' cited 
by Grohmann {Arabische Chronologie, Leyden/Koln 1966, p. 14) is known only 
from a late literary source). The Greek and Syriac material tells us whose era it 
was, usually referring to it as that of the Arabs; but the only clue to the nature of 
the event which constituted its starting-point is the dating of two Nestorian 
ecclesiastical documents of 676 and 680 by the year of 'the rule of the Arabs' 
{shultana de-tayyaye, J.-B. Chabot (ed. and tr.), Synodicon Orientate ou Recueil de 
Synodes nestoriens (= Notices et extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliotbeque Nationale, 
vol. xxxvii), Paris 1902, pp. 216 = 482, 227 = 490). 

57. We are hardly to imagine that the slut who threatens to convert (ahgar) 
if denied the eucharist on account of her intercourse with the Mahgraye proposes 
to join the ranks of the Meccan Muhajirun (C. Kayser (ed. and tr.), Die Canones 
Jacobs von Edessa, Leipzig 1886, pp. 13 = 39); compare also the case of 
Mu'awiya's mawl'a and fiscal agent 'Abdallah b. Darraj (Ahmad b. Yahya al- 
Baladhuri, Kitdb ansdb al-ashraf, vol. iv B, ed. M. Schloessinger, Jerusalem 
1938, p. 123), who can be assumed to have been a non-Arab but is described as 
a 'Mahgraya' in a contemporary Syriac source (F. Nau, 'Notice historique sur lc 
monastere de Qartamin', Actes du XIV' Congres internationale des Orientalistes, 


Notes to pp. j>— 10 

part two.Paris 1907, pp. 95 = 84). Cf. the prophecy preserved in Christian 
Arabic in which the Coptic saint Samuel of Qalamun refers to the Arab invasion as 
the coming of 'this umma who are the muhdjirun (R. Basset (ed. and tr.), 'Le 
Synaxaire arabe jacobite (Redaction copte)', in Patrologia Orientalis, vol. iii, p. 
408). (Whatever Coptic form is here rendered muhdjirun is likely also to underlie 
the curious use of hijra as a term for the Arab conquerors in the full version of 
Samuel's apocalypse (J. Ziadeh (ed. and tr.), 'L' Apocalypse de Samuel, superieur 
de Deir el Qalamoun', Revue del 'Orient chretien 1915— 17, pp. 382, 389 
note particularly the phrase ummat al-hijra 'l-'arabiyya at p. 377). The composition 
of this apocalypse is dated by Nau to the early eighth century {ibid., p. 405), 
but is probably later). 

58. Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam, Sirat 'Umar, p. 95; Abu 'Ubayd, Kitdb al-amudi, 
no. 547; compare also ibid., no. 536; Tabari, Tarikh, I, p. 2775; Ahmad b. 
Yahya al-Baladhuri, Kitdb futuh al-bulddn, ed. M. J. de Goeje, Leyden 1866, 
p. 382. Similarly the phrase dor hijra is applied to Kufa (ibid., p. 275, and Abu 
Hanifa Ahmad b. Dawud al-Dinawari, Kitdb al-akhbdral-tiwat, ed. V. Guirgass, 
Leyden 1888, p. 131) and to Tawwaj (ibid., p. 141). 

59. Abu Dawud, Sunan, vol. i, p. 388 (the Arabic is ahgmahum muhdjat 
Ibrahim). Cf. Koran 29:25. 


1. The 'Secrets', apart from what it has to say about the 'second king', seems to 
refer to the building of the Dome of the Rock as the repair of the Temple (so 
Lewis, 'Apocalyptic Vision', pp. 325, 327). Another Jewish apocalyptic fragment 
describes 'Abd al-Malik as building the Temple (I. Levi, 'Une apocalypse 
judeo-arabe', Revue des etudes juives 1914, pp. i78f). Compare also theprophecy 
attributed to Shenouti — probably early but preserved only in Arabic — of the 
coming of the children of Ishmael and Esau( !), a remnant of whom would build 
the Temple in Jerusalem (E. Amelineau, Monuments pour servir d I'histoire de 
I'Egypte cbretienne dux IV' et V siecles (= Memoires publies par les membres deia 
Mission Archeologique Fran$aise au Caire, vol. iv), Paris 1888, p. 341). 

2. See above, p. 1 54, n. 21. 

3. Sebeos, Histoire, pp. io2f. Compare the further statement of the 'Secrets' 
on the 'second king' that he 'builds a mosque (hishtahawayah) there on the temple 
rock' (Lewis, 'Apocalyptic Vision', pp. 324^, and the makeshift wooden struc- 
ture' seen by Arculf on the site of the Temple c. 670 ('Relatio de locis Sanctis', 
in T. Tobler and A. Molinier (eds.), Itinera Hierosolymitana et descriptiones Tetrae 
Sanctae, Geneva 1879^ p. 145). 

4. Note that whereas the 'Secrets' is describing the actions of the 'second king', 
who seems at least to start as 'Umar, the account in Sebeos implies that the 
Hagarene ruler was not present in Jerusalem. The prophecy of the apocalyptic 
poem referred to above (p. 5 ) that Israel 'will no more be kept far from the house 


Notes to pp. io— 1 1 

of prayer' (Lewis, 'On that day', p. 1 99) would presumably, if historical, relate to 
the period before the break described by Sebeos. 

5 . The position of the account in Sebeos' narrative would imply a date of 64 1 f. 
But whereas Sebeos has already mentioned the conquest of Egypt (ffofMre, p. 98), 
John of Nikiu's reference to Jewish fear of the Muslims during the invasion would 
suggest that the break had taken place before the Arabs entered Egypt {Chronicle, 

p. 13). 

6. The adoption of the era of 622, already plausibly attested for 6$S{ (cf. 
above, p. 1 57, n. 39), points in the same direction. Messianists would have dated 
from the liberation of Zion. 

7. See above, p. 17. 

8. Iso'yahb III, Liber Epistularum, pp. 251 = 182. The Khuzistanl chronicle 
mentions the high honour in which the Ishmaelite authorities held the previous 
Patriarch Maremmeh (Chronica Minora, pp. 3 2 =2 7), but this may have been 
the reward of earlier collaboration (see J. M. Fiey, 'Iso'yaw le Grand. Vie du 
catholicos nestorien Iso'yaw III d'Adiabene (580—659)', Orientalia Christiana 
Periodica 1970, p. 5). 

9. Bar Penkaye in A. Mingana (ed. and tr.), Sources syriaques, Leipzig n.d., 
pp. * 1 46 = * 1 7 5 ; cf. also the untranslated text at p. * 1 4 1 , where the Arab 
invasion would seem to be regarded as a work of divine providence. (The 'leader' 
in the first passage is Muhammad.) Compare the markedly philo-Christian (and 
anti-Jewish) sentiment of Koran 5 =85. 

10. E. Amelineau (ed. and tr.), Histoire du Patriarcbe copte Isaac ( = Publica- 
tions de I'Ecole des Lettres d 'Alger, vol. ii), Paris 1890, pp. 58—63, 67. Aback-' 
ground of earlier and in some measure continuing anti-Christian sentiment is in- 
dicated (pp. 43, 67; note the continuity of the governor's hatred of the cross). 

1 1 . Nau, 'Colloque'. For the historicity of the circumstantial detail given in the 
text, see ibid., pp. 226f. In the account of the disputation given by Michael the 
Syrian (Chronique, vol. iv, pp. 42 if - vol. ii, pp. 4 3 if), the emir is named' as 
'Amru bar Sa'd, and there can be little doubt that he is to be identified with the 
' Umayr b. Sa'd al-Ansari who appears as governor of Him$ and other areas in the 
period 641—4 (Tabari, Tarihjo, I, pp. 2646, 2798; note the quite exceptional 
union of Damascus with Hims under his authority indicated in both sources). 
Accordingly the date 644 seems preferable to the alternative 639. For the ques- 
tion of the integrity of the text, see below, p. 168, n. 20. 

12. Note particularly the wording of the question: 'He whom you have said 
to be the messiah, is he God or not?' (Nau, 'Colloque', pp. 248f = 258); there- 
after the emir simply refers to Jesus as the messiah. Contrast the Ishmaelite king's 
letter of 653 (see above, p. 6). 

13. Chronica Minora, pp. 71 = 55. 

14. Koran 4:1 56. Note also the preference expressed by the demons for the 
hanpe (here clearly the Mahgraye) as against the Jews on the ground that the 
former 'do not believe the Messiah to be God' in a Syriac text probably dating 


Notes to pp. ii— i j 

from the time of Mu'awiya (Nau, 'Notice historique', pp. 94 = 82 ; the author, 
Daniel of Edessa, was bishop of that city in the years 665—84 (ibid., p. 76)). 

15. Chronica Minora, pp. 71 = 55^ 

16. Koran 3:40 etc. 

1 7. F. Nau, 'Lettre de Jacques d'Edesse sur la genealogie de la sainte Vierge', 
Revue de I'Orimt chrkien 1901, pp. 518 = 523^ The letter was written towards 
the end of his life, but may well reflect earlier experience. 

18. See above, p. 8. 

19. See above, p. 19. 

' 20. The specification is not entirely without significance, since in principle an 
Arab religion of Abraham could just as well be a Keturid, and hence Sabean or 
Midianite, affair (cf. above, p. 1 59, n. 48, and below, p. 164, n. 38.andp.174, 
n. 40). 

21. See below, pp. 2 iff. 

22: 'I see that the sons of man do not eat save according to the commandments 
(miswot) of Ethan the Ezrahite' (Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrascb, vol. iii, p. 79; cf. 
Lewis, 'Apocalyptic Vision', p. 313). Ethan the Ezrahite is to be identified with 
Abraham: this is a standard rabbinic identification (see for example Babylonian 
Talmud, Baba Batra, f. 1 5 a), and the 'Secrets' is not alone in relating Abraham to 
Num. 24:21 (to the exegesis of which the quotation belongs) through the occur- 
rence of the word etan in the verse (Exodus Kabbah, 27 :6). 

23. The text of this 'Dispute which took place between an Arab and a monk 
of the convent of Bet Hale' is preserved in Codex Diyarbekir 95, now in the 
library of the Chaldean church in Mardin. The only indication of date is the 
mention of the emir Maslama (f. 1 a of the 'Dispute'). On the basis of the entry in 
Scher's catalogue of the Diyarbekir collection, Baumstark identified the work as 
the tract of Abraham of Bet Hale 'against the Arabs' mentioned in the catalogue of 
'Abd-Isho' (see A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, Bonn 1922, 
p. 211). If this identification is right, the date usually given for Abraham (c. 670) 
is a good deal too early. 

24. 'Dispute', f. 2b. 

25. Compare also the statement of the Arab that 'we are attentive to the 
commandments of Muhammad and the sacrifices of Abraham' ('Dispute', f. lb). 

26. Our use of the 'Letter of Omar and reply of Leo' is based on the transla- 
tions of K. Patkanian (Istoriya Khalifov Vardapeta Gevonda, St Petersburg 1 862, 
pp. 29—70) and A. Jeffery ('Ghcvond's text of the Correspondence between 
'Umar II and Leo III', The Harvard Theological Review 1944). There is no 
serious reason to doubt that the chronicle itself dates from the late eighth century ; 
the correspondence gives the impression of a rehashing of materials of very varied 
date. (The 'Jahiziyya' are an invention of the modern translators.) 

27. Levond, 'Letter', tr. Patkanian, p. 30 = tr. Jeffery, p. 278. The Christians 
are also accused of observing Sunday instead of Saturday (cf. the allegation that 


Notes to pp. i}— 14 

Mu'awiya shifted the Friday prayer to Saturday, Ibn 'Asakir, Ta'rikp, vol. i, 
P- 354 

28. E. Beck (ed. andvc.),DesheiligenEphraemdesSyrersSermonesIII( = CSCO, 
Scriptores Syri, vols, cxxxviiif), Louvain 1972, pp. 61 =81. The reference is of 
course to circumcision. 

29. Note for example the formulations 'Whoever prays as we do, observes 
our qibla, and eats our sacrifices (dhabiha) is a Muslim (Baladhurl, Futub, p. 69; 
Tabarl, Tartleh, I, p. 2020; Abu 'Ubayd, KJtab al-amwal, no. 51), and 'Who- 
ever professes our sbahada, observes our qibla, and is circumcised, do not take 
jiya from him' (Abu 'Ubayd, Kitab al-amwal, no. 125). 

30. Note that neither of the formulations cited in the preceding note mentions 
both circumcision and sacrifice. 

31. J. Wellhausen, Reste arabischen Heidentums 1 , Berlin 1897, p. 120. 

32. Cf. the remark of 'Umar II that God sent Muhammad as a dal, not as a 
khatin (Tabarl, Ta'rikb, II, p. 1354). 

33. See above, p. 19. 

34. For circumcision, see for example S. Krauss, 'Talmudische Nachrichten 
iiber Arabien', Zeitschrift der Deutscben Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 19 16, 
p. 3 5 1 ; for sacrifice, see for example Wellhausen, Reste arabischen Heidentums, 
p. 119. 

35. F. Nau, 'Litterature canonique syriaque inedite', Revue de V Orient 
chretien 1 909, pp. 128—30. For the exact date see A. Voobus, Syrische Kanones-. 
sammlungen, vol. i (= CSCO, Subsidia, vols, xxxv, xxxviii), Louvain 1970, 
p. 201. The conquerors appear as 'Mahgraye' in the heading of the letter (which 
may be later, but not later than the eighth century, ibid., p. 200), and as b^npe 
(cf. the pre-Islamic responsum on the same subject, Nau, 'Litterature canonique', 
p. 46) in the text of the letter. 

36. Kayser, Die Canones Jacobs von Edessa, pp. 4 = 3 5. That the Tayyaye in 
question are not the old pagans is clear from the fact that Jacob goes on to deal 
with the b<*npe as a separate category. 

37. Of the references in Genesis to Abraham's sacrificial activities, 13:18 at 
least has to be taken as provincial. 

38. How easily this aegis might be evoked, if indeed it was entirely new, can be 
seen from a source of the early fifth century which describes the Sabeans as des- 
cendants of Abraham and Keturah who practice circumcision (on the eighth day !) 
and sacrifice (clearly pagan) (Philostorgius as epitomised by Photius, PG, vol. lxv, 
col. 481). 

39. Compare the use of the term hanpe by Athanasius of Balad (above, note 
35) and Daniel of Edessa (above, p. 162, n. 14). (For later Arabic use of the term 
banif 'm the sense of 'pagan', see S. M. Stern, "Abd Al-Jabbar's Account of how 
Christ's Religion was Falsified by the Adoption of Roman Customs', The Journal 
of Theological Studies 1968, pp. i6if.) 

40. To take the most obvious example, sacred genealogy: the status of Joseph 


Notes to pp. 14— if 

as against Judah for the Samaritans, like that of Ishmael as against Israel for the 
Hagarenes, perpetuates a literal genealogical idiom which is lost in a religion for 
which all men are brothers. 

41. See above, p. 8. 

42. We know little of the early relations between the Samaritans and the con- 
querors. Two Syriac sources attest the slaughter of Samaritans at the time of 
the conquest (Chronica Minora, pp. 148 = 114; Michael the Syrian, Chronique, 
v6l. iv, p. 41 r = vol. ii, p. 413). For the period after the conquest, we are told 
that the Samaritans paid no land tax in return for their services as guides and 
spies (Baladhurl, Futuh, p. 1 58). The Samaritan historical tradition displays a 
certain partiality for Muhammad (Vilmar (ed.), Abulfathi Annates, especially t>. 

43. See above, p. 1 1. 

44. Nau, 'Colloquc', pp. 248 = 2 57f. 

45. Cf. also the subsequent observation of the patriarch that 'you have said that 
you accept Moses and his writings' (ibid., pp. 249 = 258). 

46. Ibid., pp. 2 5of = 260. 

47. See above, p. 13. 

48. Levond, 'Letter', tr. Patkanian, p. 30 = tr. Jeffery, p. 277. 

49. Denial of the resurrection crops up in various heretical groups (see G. 
Hoffmann, Austjige aus syrischen Akfen persischer Martyrer, Leipzig 1880, pp. 
7 5f, 12 2ff ). But implicit in 'Umar's question is the old Sadducee combination of 
this denial with the rejection of the prophets, and for the early Islamic period this 
is attested only in Samaritan heresy (for the survival of this heresy as late as the 
ninth century, see Vilmar (ed.), Abulfathi Annates, p. lxxxiii). Compare the 
Koranic allusion to the people of the book who do not believe in God or the Last 
Day (Koran 9:29), and Leo's inclusion in a list of Muslim heretical groups of those 
who 'deny the existence of God and the resurrection' (Levond, 'Letter', tr. 
Patkanian, p. 42 = tr. Jeffery, p. 295). The question ofnudity at the resurrection 
(ibid., tr. Patkanian, p. 29 = tr. Jeffery, p. 277) also has Samaritan associations 
(cf. the Samaritan's question cited in Levy, Worterbuch, s.v. shaliah), and it is 
perhaps worth adding that the Shi'ite usage of the term qa 'im has a precedent in 
Samaritan heresy (H. G. Kippenberg, Garrqm und Synagoge, Berlin 1971, p. 
13 m). 

50. Levond, 'Letter', tr. Patkanian, pp. 39f = tr. Jeffery, p. 291. 

51. Ibid., tr. Patkanian, p. 29 = tr. Jeffery, p. 277. 

j 2. In another rather suggestive passage, Leo remarks on the Hagarene dis- 
paragement of the Gospels and prophets on the ground that they are falsified, and 
proceeds to base his argument on a series of scriptural citations which, he stresses, 
are from the Pentateuch (ibid., tr. Patkanian, pp. 45f = tr. Jeffery, pp. 299!). 
Note also the Samaritan ring of the Hagarene insinuation detected by Leo 
that Ezra falsified the scriptures (ibid., tr. Patkanian, p. 38 = tr. Jeffery. 
p. 289). 


Notes to pp. if -i 7 

i 3 . Compare also the absence of mention of the prophets in the statement of a 
late Syriac source that Muhammad 'accepted Moses and his book, and accepted 
the Gospel . . .' (J.-B. Chabot (ed. and tr.), Chronicon ad annum Christi 1234 
pertmms (= CSCO, Scriptores Syri, vols, xxxvif, lvi), Louvain 191 6 etc., pp. 
£29 = 1 79 ; contrast the parallel version of Michael the Syrian, Chronique, vol. 
iv, p 406 = vol. ii, p. 404, where the prophets are duly included). 

ia. Samaritanism also suggested concrete alternatives which will be considered 

in Chapter 4. 

'. 5. It is not clear whether we are to think of the Torah which 'Abdallah b. 
'Am b. al-'As read alongside the Furqan (Kister, 'Haddithii', p. 231), and the 
twrb (sic, not Orayta) which the monk of Bet FJale cites alongside the Koran and 
other works as a source of law (see below, p. 167, n. 14), as some sort of Arabic 
rarguni. There is no trace of one in the disputation between the patriarch and 
the emir (Nau, 'Colloque', especially pp. 2 5 1 = 26of ). 


\. See above, p. 12. Compare also the revivalist characterisation of Muhammad 
given by Bar Penkaye: he was the guide of the Arabs from whom they had their 
monotheism according to the 'old law' (Mingana, Sources syriaques, pp. * 14& = ' 
"17 5). 

2. See for example Koran 28:46. We take the frequent Koranic attribution of 
a scripture to the Prophet even in his role of warner to be secondary : it extends 
to none of the earlier warners. 

\ . Contrast the obscure and dislocated Koranic treatment of scriptural prophecy. 

4. Note how the redeemer and lawgiver of the Israelites tends to become a non- 
scriptural messenger sent to warn the Egyptians, so much so that at one point the 
ktter inquire 'Art thou come unto us to turn us aside from that which we found 
our fathers practised?' (Koran 10:79). 

j. Note also the Mosaic model for seriatim revelation (B. J. Bamberger, 
"Revelations of Torah after Sinai', Hebrew Union College Annual 1941). 

6. For Sebeos, see above, p. 7 ; for Samuel of Am, sec E. Dulaurier, Recbercbes 
sur la chronologie armenienne, vol. i, Paris 1859, p. 354. 

7. For the Koranic use of furqan in these senses, in both Mosaic and con- 
temporary contexts, see The Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , Leyden and London i960—, 
art. 'Furkin'. Compare also the transformation of the authenticating signs of 
the redemptive context (cf. the Hebrew otoi) into scriptural verses (Arabic 


8. Contrast the interpretation of the verse given in the 'Secrets' (above, p. 5) 
with that attributed to 'Umar by Levond ('Letter', tr. Patkanian, p. 30 = tr. 
Jeffery, p. 278). In the former the rider on the ass is the Judaic messiah, and the 
rider on the camel merely heralds his coming; in the latter the rider on the ass is 
the Christian messiah, while the rider on the camel is now his companion and 
equal, the Hagarene lawgiver. 


Notes to pp. 17-18 

9. Deut. 18:15, x 8- The 'brethren' of these verses could readily be inter- 
preted as the Ishmaelites in relation to the Israelites (see for example A. Mingana 
(ed. and tr.), 'Timothy's Apology for Christianity', in his Woodbrookf Studies, 
vol. ii, Cambridge 1928, pp. 123 = 50, and Abu '1-Rayhan Muhammad b. 
Ahmad al-Birum al-Khwarizml, Kitab al-athar al-baqiya *ani 'l-quritn al- 
khaliya, ed. C. E. Sachau, Leipzig 1878, p. 19). 

10. Ibn Ishaq, Ska, pp. 231 = 160, 353 = 240. 

11. For Abraham's scripture, see above, p. 1 2. 

1 2. The statement that the Prophet had received seven mathant as well as the 
Koran (15:87; the scriptural status of mathant is clear from 39:24) is followed 
by a condemnation of those who divide the Koran (1 5 :9of ); some of the 'factions' 
deny some of what has been revealed to the Prophet (13:36) — quite apart from 
those who think it should have been revealed all at once (25 :34) or want it 
altered or exchanged (10:16). The distinction between muhkam and mutashabih 
in 3 :5 is perhaps reminiscent of the view reported in 1 3 :}6. 

13. Tabari, Tank}), I, p. 2952 (a reference for the significance of which we are 
indebted to discussion with Dr Wansbrough). Cf. also the tradition which 
designates what is presumably the 'Constitution of Medina' as revelation 
(Bukhari, Sahib, vol. ii, p. 260). 

1 4. The Arab asks why the Christians adore the cross when there is no authority 
for this practice in the Gospel. The monk replies: 'I don't think that Muhammad 
taught you all your laws and commandments in the Koran; rather there are some 
which you have taught (sic) from the Koran, and some are in the surat alhaqarah, 
and in the gygy and in the twh. So also with us : some are commandments which 
our Lord taught us, some the Holy Spirit uttered through the mouths of its ser- 
vants the Apostles, and some [it made known] through teachers, directing us and 
showing us the way of life and the path of light' (f. 6a). What is the gygy? 

15. See below, p. 168, n. 21. 

16. We owe this interpretation of the literary character of the Koran entirely 
to Dr Wansbrough. 

17. We need hardly stress how little the contents of the Koran itself help to 
identify the historical context in which it originated. The few explicit references to 
a pagan and Arabian environment are balanced by an allusiveness in the retelling 
of Biblical narratives which presupposes an audience already familiar with them; 
cf. also the way in which the polemic on the resurrection is firmly based on the 
axiom of a first monotheist creation (we owe both points to Dr Wansbrough). 

18. Van Berchem, Corpus, part two, vol. ii, nos. 215—17. There is extensive 
agreement with our text in no. 215 (but note particularly the conflation of our 
64:1 and 57:2 which appears twice, and the variant verbal forms of 19:34); 
on the other hand, there is extensive deviance from our text in nos. 2 i6f (in the 
case of no. 217, none of the four verses represented is in a form coinciding with 
our text, and in particular the creed (closest to our 2:130) appears with two 
omissions and three variants). Compare also the early papyrus fragment in which 


Notes to p. 1 8 

the letters (b appear immediately following I :i— 3 (Grohmann, Arabic Papyri 
from Hirbet el-Mird, no. 72). 

19. 'Dispute', ff. 1 a, 6a (quirn). The first reference is uninformative, the second 
is quoted above, p. 167, n. 14. 

20. The emir inquires about the laws of the Christians, their nature and 
content, and in particular whether or not they are written in the Gospel. He 
adds: 'If a man dies and leaves sons or daughters and a wife and a mother 
and a sister and a (paternal) cousin, how is his property supposed to be 
divided among them?' (Nau, 'Colloque', pp. 251 = 261). If, as the context 
suggests, the emir feels that the answer ought to be found in Christian scrip- 
ture, then the presumption is that an answer was also to be found in his own; 
and the Koranic norms, with their elaborate division of the inheritance 
(Koran 4:8 etc.), go somewhat better with the question than those of the 
Pentateuch, where the daughters and other relatives inherit only if there are 
no sons (Num. 27:8). But the point is hardly conclusive, and the formulation 
of the question is in any case very much in the style of the Christian law- 
books (see for example E. Sachau, Syrische Rechtsbucber, Berlin 1907—14, 
vol. ii, pp. 90 = 91, and vol. iii, pp. 94 = 95). There is also some reason 
to suspect that in this section of the disputation we may not have the text 
in its original state: the construction of the section is uncharacteristically dis- 
located (for example, the emir's question on inheritance is simply ignored in 
the patriarch's answer), and the form 'Mahgra' appears only in the discussion 
of law (cf. above, p. 1 59, n. 51). 

21. Hajjaj 'collected all your old writings, composed others according to his 
own tastes, and disseminated them everywhere among your nation . . . From this 
destruction there escaped only a small number of works of Abou-T'ourab [i.e. 
'AG], for he could not make them disappear completely' (Levond, 'Letter', tr. 
Patkanian, p. 44 = tr. Jeffery, p. 298). For Kindt's account of theroleof Hajjaj, 
see Jeffery's note (Joe. cit.). Contrast Leo's earlier attribution of the composition 
of the P'ourkan (i.e. Furqdn) to 'Umar, 'All and Salman al-Farisi (ibid., tr. 
Patkanian, p. 40 = tr. Jeffery, p. 292). 

2 2. See the material collected by Jeffery in his note to the passage quoted from 
Levond in the previous note. 

2 3. Thus in one tradition the Prophet says 'Were Moses among you and if 
you followed him, leaving me, you would have gone astray' (Kister, 'Haddithu', 
p. 234; cf. also p. 235). 

24. Ibid., p. 2 36. 

25. The Dome of the Rock attests Hagarene belief in the 'prophets' (van 
Berchem, Corpus, part two, vol. ii, no. 21 7), and the Arab who disputes with the 
monk of Bet Hale explicitly recognises their authority ('Dispute', f. jb). Note 
that 'Abd al-Malik has a son named Solomon and grandsons named Job and 

26. The Gospel thereby becomes a scripture revealed to Jesus (see for example 


Notes to pp. i8—ij> 

Koran 5:50) which constitutes a law by which his followers can be judged 

27. A full harmony between prophecy and genealogy could of course have 
been achieved only at the cost of the outright rejection of the Judaic and Christian 
scriptures. If such a view was ever maintained, it might account for a curious 
anathema of the creed known as 'Fiqh Akbar I': 'Whoso believeth all that he 
is bound to believe, except that he says, I do not know whether Moses and Jesus 
do or do not belong to the Apostles, is an infidel' (A. J. Wensinck, The Muslim 
Creed, Cambridge 1932, p. 104). Actual Islamic attitudes to the relationship 
between ethnicity and religious truth remained ambivalent and somewhat 

28. For the prbphetological mess arising from the Koranic residue of the 
religion of Abraham, see Katib Chelebi, The Balance of Truth, tr. G. I. Lewis, 
London 1957, pp. 110—23. 

29. Cf. above, p. 13. 

30. Van Berchem, Corpus, part two, vol. ii, no. 217. 

3 1 . For a more detailed — though by now slightly dated — discussion see further 
P. Crone, The Mawali in the Umayyad 'Period, London Ph.D. 1974, especially 
pp. 2I5ff. 

32. Both provide examples of phrases of the type ashlem nafsheh le-mareh in 
the sense of 'to surrender oneself/ one's soul to God'. But no reliably pre-Islamic 
Jewish instance has been adduced (that sometimes cited from Midrash Tanhuma 
(ed. S. Buber, Wilna 1 885, p. 63) can hardly be taken as such, see Encyclopaedia 
Judaica, Jerusalem i97if, art. 'Tanhuma Yelammedenu'). In Syriac the usage is 
definitely attested from the pre-Islamic period. But either it means to die (as in the 
'Life' of Rabbula, in J. J. Overbeck (ed.), S. Ephraemi Syri, Rabulae episcopi 
Edesseni, Ealaei aliorumque opera selecta, Oxford 1865, p. 2 06); or the reference is 
to Christ, as in the case of the young people who 'were persuaded by our Lord, 
and gave up themselves to Him' in the 'Acts of St. Thomas' (W. Wright (ed. and 
tr.), Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, London i87i,pp. 182 = 1 j6;forthedaw 
of this text, cf. pp. xivf of the 'Preface' to the text); compare also the case of the 
man who 'surrenders himself ... to the Messiah' in a text of the second half of the 
seventh century (Palladius, Hieronymus et al., The Book, of Paradise, ed. and tr. 
E. -A. W. Budge, London 1904, pp. 222 - 275; for the date of this Syria., 
translation, see Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, pp. 2oif). 

33. J. Macdonald (ed. and tr.), Memar Marqah, Berlin 1963, pp. 85 =1 36 
(ashlem nafsheh le-mareh, of Abraham); 90 = 147 (of the patriarchs in general). 
In the second passage, the idea is associated with God's recompensing of the right- 
eous, in striking parallelism with Koran 2 :io6. 

34. Compare shallem nafsheh le-mareh {Memar Marqah, pp. 43 = 6j); eshttlere 
(pp. 60 = 93); eshta' bad and meshta'bedin (ibid.); and the frequent use of the rco: 
rkn (e.g. pp. 98, 104 = 162, 173). 

3 5 . Note particularly the parallelism between the submission of the righteous 


Notes to pp. i $-21 

man to God and his espousal of the religion of Abraham (Koran 4:124), and that 
between the designations millat Ibrahim and mmlimun (22 : 77). 

36. A comparison of the Koranic version (3 7 :99ff ) with those of the Targums 
as analysed by G. Vermes, Scripture and Tradition in Judaism, Leyden 1961, 
chapter 8, brings out clearly the way in which the Koran follows the targumic 
narrative in building up the voluntary role of Isaac only to omit the interpretation 
which this narrative was designed to support, viz. the redemptive force of Isaac's 
self-sacrifice. Instead the Koran interprets the incident as an instance of God's 
recompensing the righteous (37:105, 1 10). It is not a very arresting theme, but it 
is precisely the one whose association with Samartitan submission has just been 

3 7. See the entry ashlem in J. Levy, Chalddisches Worterbuchieberdie Targumim, 
Leipzig i867f. 

38. Cf. D. Kunstlinger, '"Islam", "Muslim", "aslama" im Kuran', Rocqiik. 
Orjentalistyapy 1935, pp. 133ft 136. Compare also the very suggestive use of the 
corresponding Hebrew passive participle mushlam in the context of the relationship 
between man and God (see M. Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud- 
Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature, London 1895— 1903, s.v.; 
the instance cited from Genesis Rabbah should certainly be pre-Islamic). 

39. See above, pp. 8f. 

40. See above, p. 160, n. 55. 


1 . Except in the peculiar case of Ethiopia, where the Davidic monarchy is 
nationalised by virtue cf the adoption of Israelite descent (cf. above, p. 16). 

2. Though not of course for William Blake, with his attempt to Anglicise the 
sacred geography of the Bible against the background of a Druidic din Ibrahim. 

3 . We have made no attempt to investigate other possible influences of Samarit- 
anism on Islam. The most obvious candidate would be the monotheist confession, 
as already suggested by M. Gaster {The Encyclopaedia ofIslam\ Leyden 1913— 
38, art. 'Samaritans'). The confession 'There is no God but one' is a character- 
istically Samaritan locution in form, and is very common in pre-Islamic Samaritan 
texts. As in Islam, it is regarded as a testimony (see Z. Ben-Hayyim, The Literary 
and Oral Tradition of Hebrew and Aramaic amongst the Samaritans, vol. iii, part 
two, Jerusalem 1967, p. 164, and compare the set phrase 'let us testify . . .' 
which regularly precedes the confession in the Memar Marqah). The Samaritan and 
Islamic versions differ of course over the last word of the confession, but note 
the instability of the Koranic forms in this respect (1 3 =29, 37:34, 64:13), and 
the common addition of uahdabu to the standard Islamic form, e.g. in the Dome 
of the Rock. In this case, as a fortiori in that of islam, the question of the contamina- 
tion of Samaritan texts by Islamic influence is always something of an embarrass- 
ment (see particularly the remarks of Z. Ben-Hayyim with respect to the text of 
the Memar Marqah in his review of Macdonald's edition, Bibliotbeca Orientalis 


Notes to pp. 21—22 

1966, especially p. 90); this issue does not of course arise with respect to the 
Samaritan scriptural position, or, except in matters of detail, the caiques con- 
sidered in this chapter. 

4. For the period between the break with the Jews and the construction of the 
Dome of the Rock we have only negative evidence on Hagarene attitudes to the 
sanctity of the city: the Christian focus of Mu'awiya's interest in its sacred topo- 
graphy (see above, p. 1 1); the makeshift character of the wooden oratory re- 
ported by Arculf on the site of the Temple a decade later (see p. 161, n. 3); and 
the jibe of St Anastasius the Sinaite in his polemic against the Jews that their 
temple lies ruined and burnt (PG, vol. lxxxix, col. 1 226). 

5. For the Meccan rukji, see Wellhausen, Reste arabischen Heidentums, p. 74. 
Abraham's pillar was still on display in Shechem in the third century after Christ 
(Kippenberg, Gamjm und Synagoge, p. 112). 

6. Wa-qad nard taqalluba uiajhika ft 'l-samd\ as the Koran has it in the key 
passage on the qibla (2 : 1 39). This reference the instability of the qibla is not the 
only Koranic indication of controversy in this area: 9:108 refers to a masjid 
maliciously adopted with a veiw to splitting the believers, and 2:109 suggests 
dispensing with a qibla. 

7. F. Nau, 'Revelations et legendes. Methodius. Clement. Andronicus', Journal 
as/atique 1917, pp. 427,431 =437,440. Nau's argument that this version of the 
apocalypse is the original one is not persuasive : there is no trace of Mecca in the 
European or latter Syrian traditions of pseudo-Methodius, and above all it 
makes no appearance in the version in the Vatican codex Syr. j8, regarded by 
Kmosko as the best attestation of the original text (M. Kmosko, 'Das Ratsel 
des Pseudomethodius', Byyantion 1931, p. 276; we are indebted to Dr Sebastian 
Brock for checking his photostat of the manuscript for us). 

8. 'Continuatio Byzantia Arabica', p. 347. The context is the second civil war. 
The chronicle notes the claim that it is the house of Abraham, and gives a location 
in the desert between Ur of the Chaldees and Harran. 

9. The chronicle ends with the accession of Hisham ('Continuatio Byzantia 
Arabica', p. 359) and was clearly written during his reign (ibid., p. 346). 

10. It also refers to such minor (and hence mobile) toponyms as 'Arafat (2 : 194) 
and $afa and Marwa (2 :i j 3). 

1 1 . The accepted reading of the consonantal skeleton may be nothing more than 
a way of bringing it into rhyme with Mecca. 

12. M. Gaster, The Asatir, London 1927, pp. 34 = 262 (we owe this 
reference to Mr G. R. Hawting). 

13. J. H. Petermann, Versucb einer hebrdischen Formenlebre nach der Aussprache 
der heutigen Samaritaner, Leipzig 1869, p. 186. 

14. Note that the Koranic treatment of the qibla points to some sort of Biblical 
sanction (2:139, I 4 1 )- Levond has 'Ulnar accuse the Christians of not praying 
towards the region indicated by the 'laws' ('Letter', tr. Patkanian, p. 55 = tr. 
Jeffrey, p. 310). 


Notes tO pp. 22—2} 

1 5 . See above, pp. 

1 6. Cf. the tradition that the valley of Mecca had itself been fertile in former' 
times (A. J. Wensinck, The Ideas of the Western Semites concerning the Navel of the 
Earth, Amsterdam 1916, p. 34). 

17. M. J. Kister, ' "You shall only set out for three mosques" : a study of an early 
tradition', Le Museon 1969, p. 192. 

18. The Samaritan Targum by contrast tended to leave the Pentateuchal topo- 
nymy intact. The renderings of the Peshitta could be more helpful. The form 
Mansha which appears there for the Mesha of Gen. 1 o : 30 on the delimitation of 
the territory of the Joktanites is perhaps the source of the form al-Mansah, one of 
the more recondite names of Mecca (R. Dozy, Die Israeliten ■y* MekJ?a, Leipzig 
and .Haarlem 1864, p. 89). The level of interest in the potentialities of other 
people's scriptures which this would imply is nothing unusual in the period: in 
Isho'dad of Merv we have a Nestorian who could cite the Samaritan Pentateuch 
in support of his views on sacred geography (C. van den Eynde (ed. and tr.), 
Commentaire d'Iso'dad de Merv sur I'Ancien Testament (= CSCO, Scriptores 
Syri, vols, lxvii, lxxv etc.), Louvain 1950—, II. Exode-Deuteronomie, pp. 129 = 

19. Reqam (= Petra) for Qadesh: Onqelos, pseudo- Jonathan and Neophyti 
at Gen. 16:14 20 :I - Halu$a (= Elusa) for Shur: pseudo- Jonathan at 
25:18 and Neophyti there and at 16:7 and 20:1; Halusa for Bered: pseudo- 
Jonathan and Neophyti at 16:14. (Elusa appears as al-Khalus in papyri of the 
670s, C. J. Kraemer, Non-literary Papyri ( = Excavations at Nessana, vol. iii), 
Princeton, N.J. 1958, nos. 60, 62.). 

20. T. Noldeke, 'Der Gott mr byi und die Ka'ba', Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie 
und veruandte Gebiete 1 909 (and note the epigraphical attestation of the god Hubal 
and the name Qusayy in the north-west, A Grohmann, Arabien, Munich 1963, 
p. 87, and G. L. Harding, An Index and Concordance of pre-Islamic Arabian names 
and inscriptions, Toronto 1971, s.n. qsy). Cf. also the black stone of Petra (J. H. 
Mordtmann, 'Dusares bei Epiphanius', Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandis- 
chen Gesellschaft 1 876, p. 104), and the abundant epigraphical and other attesta- 
tion of the three Arabian deities of Koran 53 =19 in the north-west (Grohmann, 
Arabien, pp. 82—4). 

2 1 . Hagra for Shur : Onqelos at Gen. 16:7, 20:1, 25:18; pseudo- Jonathan at 
16:7 and 20:1. Hagra for Bered: Onqelos at 16:14. 

22. This is not the only possible location for the targumic Hagra (Babylonian 
Talmud, Giftin, f. 4a, points to one adjoining the land of Israel); but a Jewish 
inscription recently found in the area attests both the name and the fact of Jewish 
settlement in the fourth century after Christ (F. Altheim and R. Stiehl, DieAraber 
in der Alten Welt, vol. v, part one, Berlin 1968, pp. 30 5f). 

23. Note that whereas Bakka is fully absorbed into Mecca, al-Hijr remains a 
place in its own right, already in the Koran reclassified as an object of divine 
wrath (15:78—84). 


Notes to pp. 2}— 24 

24. All the significant umam khdliya of the Arabian past are to be sought here : 
Midian, Thamiid and 'Ad (for the location of the latter, see Encyclopaedia of 
Islam 1 , s.n.). And note how the Prophet tells his contemporaries that God has 
destroyed cities around them (46:26). Cf. also Koran 30: if, where the Greeks 
are said to have been defeated in the nearest (part) of the land. 

25. In both the first and second civil wars, we find accounts of people proceed- 
ing from Medina to Iraq via Mecca (for Talha and al-Zubayr, see J. van Ess, 
Frube Muta-qlitische Haresiographie, Beirut 1971, text p. 16; for Husayn, see 
Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Dhahabi, Tarikh al-isldm, Cairo 1 367-9, vol. ii, p. 

26. K. A. C. Creswell, Early Muslim Architecture 1 , vol. i, part one, Oxford 
1969, pp. 1 37ff (Wasit); G. Fehervari, Development of the Mihrdh down to the 
XTVth Century, London Ph.D. 1961, p. 89 (Ishaf Beni Junayd near Baghdad). 
Jahiz includes the alteration of the qibla of Wasit among the misdeeds of Walld 
I and his ilk (H. al-Sandubi (ed.), Rasa' il al-Jdhi%, Cairo 1933, p. 296). 

27. This is implied by the tradition about the first mosque at Kufa as given in 
Baladhuri, Futuh, p. 2 76, and stated by Jacob of Edessa in the passage cited 

28. In addition to the testimonies discussed in the text, the curious statement of 
Severus that that the Arabs pray ild 'l-jiha 'l-qibliyya mushriqina ild . . . 'l-ka'ba 
is perhaps a confused reflection of a statement in his Coptic source to the effect 
that they prayed to the east (Severus ibn al-Muqaffa', History of the Patriarchs of 
the Coptic Church of Alexandria, ed. and tr. B. Evens, in Patrologia Orientalis, 
vol. i, p. 492). 

29. Creswell, Early Muslim Architecture 1 , vol. i, part one, pp. 37, 1 50. The 
amount of the deviation is not indicated, but compare the tradition that 'Amr 
prayed facing slighdy south of east (Ahmad b. 'AG al-Maqrizi, Kitab al-mawa i\ 
wa' l-t tibdr, Cairo 1326, vol. iv, p. 6). Cf. also the tradition in which die 
musalld is associated with the accursed as against the holy mountain (Muhammad 
b. Yiisuf al-Kindf, Kitab al-wtlat ua-kitab al-qudat, ed. R. Guest, Leyden and 
London 1912, p. 13). 

30. British Museum, Add. 12,172, f. 124a (see Wright, Catalogue of Syriac 
Manuscripts, p. 604). He is disposing of a silly question as to why the Jews pray 
facing south: 'For it is not to the south that the Jews pray (sagdin); nor for that 
matter do the Mahgraye. The Jews who live in Egypt, as likewise the Mahgraye 
there, as I saw with my own eyes and will now set out for you, prayed to 
the east, and still do, both peoples — the Jews towards Jerusalem, and the 
Mahgraye towards the Ka'ba (k'bt'). And those Jews who are to the south of 
Jerusalem pray to the north; and those in Babylonia and nhrt' and busrt' pray to 
the west. And also the Mahgraye who are there pray to the west, towards the 
Ka'ba ; and those who are to the south of the Ka'ba pray to the north, towards 
the place. So from all this it is clear that it is not to the south that the Jews and 
Mahgraye here in the regions of Syria pray, but towards Jerusalem or the Ka'ba, 
the patriarchal [abahayatd) places of their races.' Jacob had studied in Alexandria 
in his youth (Voobus, Syrische Kanonessammlungen, p. 207). 


Notes to p. 24 

31. See above, p. 4. Compare the account of Muhammad's early travels as 
a merchant given in the chronicle of Jacob of Edessa, according to which he visits 
Palestine and Phoenicia, with that given in the Sira, which gets him no farther than 
Bosra (Chronica Minora, pp. 326 = 250; Ibn Ishaq, Sira, pp. 115 = 79). 

32. The invaders claim that the land is promised to them by God (maui'ud 
allah, Taban, Tarikh, I, p. 22 54), and that it is a divinely conferred inheritance- 
(ibid., p. 2284). In another passage (ibid., p. 2289), these notions are conjoined 
with the Koranic citation (21:105) of Ps. 37:29 on the inheritance of the land by. 
the righteous. Compare the tendentious reshaping of the career of Khalid b. al- 
Walid in the Islamic historical tradition (Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , s.n.). 

3 3. See above, p. 9. Contrast the implication in the passage cited from Sebeos 
(above, p. 7) that the non- Palestinian conquests are merely interest charged on the 
Byzantine usurpation of the promised land. 

34. Cf. for example the section on 'the expulsion of the Jews from the Arabian 
peninsula ' in Abu Dawud, Sunan, vol. ii, p. 4 3 , and the account of ' Umar's expulsion 
of the Jews of Arabia to Syria in Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat, vol. iii, p. 203. 

3 5 . Note the tradition that Aws and Khazraj were of Jewish descent (Kister, 
'Haddithu', p. 233). 

36. Bukhari, Sahih, vol. ii, pp. 267^ where further traditions to the same effect 
are also given; see also ibid., vol. iii, p. 35; Abu 'Ubayd, Kitab al-amwdl, no. 
531; Wensinck, Concordance, s.v. hijra. 

37. The primary sense of the term medinah in Judaic usage is 'province', as 
opposed to the 'sanctuary' (miqdash); and unlike the alternative sense of 'city', 
this gives the right contrast with umm al-qura. 

38. Sebeos makes no mention of such a base, but already in the fragmentary 
Maronite chronicle we are told that Mu'awiya did not wish to govern from the 
seat (kiirsay) of Muhammad (Chronica Minora, pp. 71 = 56). 

39. A firm identification of Medina and Yathrib appears in the Khuzistam 
chronicle (Chronica Minora, pp. 38 = 3 1 ; for this source, cf. above, p. 1 5 3, n. 7). 
The Koran refers to Medina at one point in such a manner as to suggest that it was 
the Prophet's base (3 3 :6of); elsewhere it refers to Yathrib (3 3:13), but gives no 
indication whether or not Yathrib is Medina. 

40. Notably again the Khuzistam chronicle (lac. cit. ; cf. also the identification of 
Ya thrib as the city of Ketura in the Chronicle of Si'ird, Scher, Histoire nestorienne, 
p. 600). The composite accountof the origins of Islam given by Thomas Artsruni 
(Brosset, Collection d'historiens armeniens, vol. i, pp. 88—90) names the Prophet's 
base as Midian, and incidentally identifies Mecca with Pharan, explicidy located 
in Arabia Petraea. A town of Midian is known in the north-west in both ancient 
and Islamic sources, and a site has been identified for it (see A. Musil, The 
Northern fygax, New York 1926, pp. 278—82, and P.J. Varietal., 'Preliminary 
Survey in N.W. Arabia, 1968', Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology 1971, 
pp. 30—5). The Koran of course disposes of Midian by making it an object of 
divine retribution. 


Notes to pp. 24— 2 j 

41. It receives its warning in Arabic (Koran 42 15). 

42. It even possesses an originally Ka'ba-like structure, modified by 'Umar 
b. 'Abd al-'Aziz to prevent its being taken for a qibla, and identified in the Islamic 
tradition as the Prophet s tomb (J. Sauvaget, La mosquee omeyyade de Medine, 
Paris 1947, p. 89). Alternatively, the bujar of the mosque of Medina can be 
compared to the hijr of the Meccan sanctuary: the Medinese bujar (identified as 
the 'rooms of the Prophet's wives) contain the grave of Muhammad just as the 
Meccan hijr contains that of Ishmael, and they are included in the rebuilt mosque 
by 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz (ibid., pp. 10-12) just as the hijr is included in the 
rebuilt Ka'ba by Ibn al-Zubayr. It is also easy enough to identify a Medinese 
analogue to the Meccan pilgrimage to the holy place outside the city: on the two 
great festivals, the Prophet used to go out to a musalla on the territory of the 
Banu Salaraa, and even sacrifice there (F. Buhl, Das Leben Mubammeds 1 , Heidel- 
berg 1 96 1, p. 205). Note also that Medina, not Mecca, is the primary residence 
of the sacred lineage of Islam, the 'Alids. 

43. Contrast the early tradition according to which the Prophet ordered that 
the mosque of Medina should be no more than 'a booth like the booth of 
Moses . . . because the affair (will happen) sooner than that' (M. J. Kister, '"A 
booth like the booth of Moses . . . ": a study of an early haditb'. Bulletin oftbe 
School of Oriental and African Studies 1962). 

44. Not that there is early attestation of this. It is clear enough from Sebeos that 
the early Ishmaelite kings ruled from somewhere off-stage, and this can plausibly 
be located in Arabia (Histoire, p. 101, for Amr, and ibid., p. 149, for- a ruler 
identifiable as 'Uthman): on the other hand it is striking that in an early Syriac 
reference to the battle of Siffin, the Abu Turab whom Mu'awiya defeated there is 
described as emir of Hira (S. Brock, 'An early Syriac Life of Maximus the Con- 
fessor', Analecta Bollandiana 1973, pp. 313 = 319, with commentary at p. 

45. For the traditions of this type, see R. B. Serjeant, 'Haram and Hawtah', 
in Melanges Taha Husain, Cairo 1962, p. 50. 

46. Cf. the comment of Waraqa b. Nawfal on Muhammad's first revelation 
there: 'There has come to you the greatest Law (ndmus), which came to Moses' 
(Ibn Ishaq, Sira, pp. 154 = 107). 

47. See The Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , art. 'Hajj', p. 32. 

48. An earlier location outside the town is perhaps suggested by the Hispano- 
Arab chronicle which, in a passage referred to above (p. 22), describes Mecca as 
'next to a town in the desert' ; compare the indications found in the Islamic tradition 
that the Ka'ba should be on a mountain (Wensinck, The Navel of the Earth, pp. 
I4f; we owe this point to Mr G. R. Hawting, who also pointed out the sug- 
gestiveness of the testimonia relating to the hill of Abu Qubays, and in particular 
to the presence on it of a masjid Ibrahim). If the 'house' remained on the mountain 
until a fairly late stage in the evolution of the Abrahamic sanctuary, this might 
help to explain why the early Christian references conspire to leave the town 
unnamed. For Jacob of Edessaon the Ka'ba, see above.p. 173, n. 3o;theKhuzistani 

J 7J 

Notes to pp. 2j- 26 

chronicle, in a passage referred to above (p. I74,n. 39), mentions several Arabian 
toponyms and devotes some lines to the 'dome of Abraham', but gives no location 
for it; Bar Penkiye mentions the zeal of [Ibn] Zubayr for the 'house of God', 
his coming to a place in the south which was the Hagarene 'house of worship', 
and the burning of the latter in the ensuing hostilities, but again gives no toponym 
(Mingana, Sources syriaques, pp. * 1 5 j = * 1 8 3). If a reflex of the move is to be 
sought in the Islamic tradition, the obvious candidate the inclusion of 
the htjr in the Ka'ba as reconstructed by Ibn al-Zubayr. 

49. At Mini in the case of the h&jj and at Marwa in the case of the 'umra,. 
sacrifice at Mount 'Arafat having been discontinued in (classical) Islam; cf. the 
indications of the existence of a bayt at Marwa adduced in H. Lammens, 'Les 
sanctuaires preislamites dans l'Arabie occidentale', Melanges de I'Universite Saint- 
Joseph 1926, pp. 52— 4, 74. It is thus rather suggestive of an extra-urban location 
of the sanctuary that sacrifice at the sanctuary seems to figure as a basic rite in 
the Koran (5 196—8; 22:34; and cf. 48:25). Likewise the Khuzistani chronicle 
in its account of the 'dome of Abraham' mentions that he built it to perform 
sacrifices, while Levond has Leo refer to 'the pagan altar of sacrifice which you 
call the house of Abr-Jiam' ('Letter', tr. Patkanian, p. 5 5 = tr. Jeffery, p. 310). 

50. In the case of Iran the cultural and religious distance precluded early and 
effective assimilation. 

5 1 . The Judaic high-priesthood did not have quite the same political character, 
since Judaism recognises the Davidic monarchy; and as an institution, it had 
been dead for centuries. 

52. The fragmentary Maronite chronicle attests the fact that Mu'awiya, 
despite his philo-Christian tour of Jerusalem, wore no crown (Chronica Minora, 
pp. 71 = 56). 

53. We use 'imamate' rather than 'caliphate' since the former preserves better 
the priestly flavour of the office; but the original Hagarene term may well have 
been khalifa rather than imam, cf. above, p. 28 and n. 70 thereto. 

54. One implication of the analysis here advanced is that Quraysh (or the 
'Alids) are to be regarded as a ritually inert equivalent of the Levitical (or Aaronid) 
priesthood. Cf. the residence of Quraysh at Abraham's sanctuary and of the 
'Alids at Muhammad's. 

5 5 . For a striking example see the chapter on the imamate in the eleventh-century 
legal handbook of Yisuf b. Salama al-'Askari (S. Noja (tr.), II Kitab al-Kafi 
dei Samaritani, Naples 1970, pp. 13—25). 

56. Note the appearance of the greatest name of God as part of the content of 
this learning (J. Macdonald (ed. and tr.), The Samaritan Chronicle no. II, Berlin 
1969, p. 105; al-Hasan b. Musi al-Nawbakhti, Kitab firaq al-sht a, ed. H. 
Ritter, Istanbul 1931, p. 37). 

57. The parallel is closest in the Imiml case, where as among the Samaritans 
the office is passed from father to son. 

5 8. See for example Nawbakhd, Kitab firaq al-shi'a, p. 16 ; Kister, 'Haddithu', 
p. 223. 


Notes to pp. 26—27 

59. J. van Ess, 'Das Kitab al-irja des Hasan b. Muhammad b. al-IJanafivya', 
Arabica 1974, p. 24. This text attributes to the Saba'iyya a form of religious 
authority based on the notions of esoteric knowledge and of the complete accept- 
ance of the authority of a sacred lineage which they take as their imam. 

60. The golden calf in the Koranic account (20 :8yff ) is the result of the efforts 
of a Samaritan who characteristically claims esoteric religious perception. (That 
the Koranic Samiri is indeed a Samaritan can hardly be doubted : the la misasa 
of 20 197 is a Samaritan theme already attested in pre-Islamic times, see A. Sharf, 
Byigntine Jewry from Justinian to the Fourth Crusade, London 1971, p. 44.) The 
occasion for this innovation in the Pentateuchal story is doubtless to be found 
in such Biblical references as the. 'calf of Samaria' of Hosea 8 but its point is 
otherwise obscure. Now in the context of the second civil war we have in the 
historiographical tradition the likewise obscure episode of the Tawwabun, who 
repent of having followed the golden calf (see for example Tabari, Ta'rikh, II, 
p. 500), and duly go out to be slaughtered — one might add, by the Levites in the 
shape of the Umayyads (compare Exodus 32 and Koran 2 151). In the tradition 
as we have it, it is rather obscure why failing to fight for rjusayn should count 
as following the golden calf. Elsewhere, however, we find the golden calf 
identified with the 'Alids themselves (so Walld II in Tabari, Ta ' rikji, II, p. 1774). 
If this identification was in fact the original one, then the sin of the Tawwabun 
must originally have been their espousal of the 'Alid cause rather than their failure 
to fight for it, which would lend more point to the designation than it now 
possesses ; and at the same time, the Koranic role of the Samaritan in the making 
of the golden calf would appear as a reference to the historical role of the 
Samaritans in the making of the 'Alid high-priesthood. The significance of 
'All's by-name Abu Turab might then be sought in the handful of dust from 
which the calf was made (Koran 20:96). 

61. Cf. above, p. 30. 

62. It is also among the Kharijites of the second civil war that we hear of a 
sect, the Najdiyya, holding that scripture is enough and the imamate unnecessary 
(Nawbakhti, Kitab firaq al-sht a, p. 10). 

63. For the form, compare the monotheist confession (see above, p. 1 70, n. 3), 
and B'en-Hayyim, Literary and Oral Tradition, vol. iii, part two, pp. 4 iff. For the 
high-priesdy prerogative of judgment, see Ex. 28:30; Memar Marqah, p. 93 : 
Macdonald, The Samaritan Chronicle no. II, p. 109. The tahkim appears on die 
coins of al-Qatari b. al-Fuja'a, 688—97 (J- Walker, A Catalogue of the Arab- 
Sassanian Coins, London 1941, pp. H2f). 

64. Cf. the identification of the two terms implicit in the tradition 'There is no 
mahdi but Jesus son of Mary' ('Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad ibn Khaldun, 
Maqaddima, ed. M. Quatremere, vol. i, part two, Paris 1858, p. 163). 

65. For attestations of the idea of a return of Moses in the Judaism of die 
period, see Levi, 'L'apocalypse de Zorobabel', pp. 139 = 155, and above, 
p. 158, n. 46, where the redemptive role of the returning Moses is particularly strik- 
ing. For the' earlier history of the idea, see for example N. Wieder, "The "Law 
interpreter" of the Sect of the Dead Sea Scrolls : The Second Moses', Journal of 


Notes to pp. 27-28 

Jewish Studies 1953. On the Islamic side there is some evidence to suggest that 
toe mahdi was originally a returning Muhammad. In the first place, this is the 
doctrine attributed to Ibn Saba' in Tabari (Ta'iikh, I, p. 2942), and it has as we 
have seen a good Judaic model; whereas the view of the heresiographers that it 
was 'Ali whose return he expected looks like an attempt to bring Saba'ism into 
line with later Shi 'ism (see I. Friedlaender, "Abdallah b. Saba, der Begriinder 
der Si a, und sein jiidischer Ursprung', Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie und veruiandte 
Gtbiete 1 909, for the various testimonies). Secondly, as Casanova pointed out, the 
carious principle that the mahdi must be a namesake of the Prophet makes sense if 
the mahdi was originally conceived as a returning Muhammad (P. Casanova, 
Mohammed et la fin du monde: etude critique sur I'lslam primitif, Paris 191 1, 
p. 58; Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya even has a daughter with the kunya Umm 
Abiha, see Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat, vol. v, p. 67, and cf. below, note 69). 
Note also the explicit invocation of Mosaic precedent in the tradition referred to 
above (p. 1 54, n. 24) regarding 'Umar's belief in the occlusion and return of the 

66. 'Abbasid conflation of imamic and mahdic claims is numismatically attested 
in 768 : the coins on which the term muslim makes its first numismatic appearance 
(see above, p. 1 59, n. 50) refer to the heir-apparent as al-imam al-Mahdi. 

67. Friedlaender, "Abdallah b. Saba'. 

68. The only trace of the lay conception would be the account in the 'Secrets' 
of the great king who arises from Hazarmaweth (a son of Joktan) and is killed 
after a short reign by the strong men of the sons of Kedar (a son of Ishmael), see 
Lewis, 'Apocalyptic Vision', p. 325, with identification of the king as 'All at 

p. 328. 

69. A degree of fidgeting with the kin relationship of the two men is suggested 
by the replication of Fatima as (a) grandmother of 'All and Muhammad, (b) mother 
of AE, and (c) daughter of Muhammad and wife of 'Ah, the latter bearing the 
curious by-name Umm Abiha. 

70. The priesdy character of the caliphate prior to this reinterpretation is sug- 
gested not only by the tide khalifat alldh (see the following note), but also by 
Koran 2:28—31: it is die possession of esoteric knowledge that justifies Adam's 

status as khalifa. 

71. The tide khalifat rasul allah is not attested by any early source. By contrast, 
khalifat allah appears on qoins of c. 670—90 (J. Walker, A Catalogue of the 
A r ab-Bf!^ntine and Yost-Reform Umaiyad Coins, London 1956, pp. 3 of); it also 
occurs (unless we are to suspect later contamination) in the pre-Islamic Samaritan 
Msmar Marqah, applied by the dying Moses to Eliezer [hlyft yhvh, pp. 121 = ' 
199). The presumption is therefore that khalifat allah is primary. 

72. Cf. the difficulty experienced by Christian sources which remember that 
the Prophet was alive when the conquests began in accommodating the reign 
of Abu Bakr (see the passages of Michael the Syrian and the 'Continuatio Byzantia 
Arabica' referred to above, p. 1 5 2, n. 7). The earliest references to Abu Bakr from 
outside the Islamic literary tradition occur in two Syriac sources dating from the 


Notes to pp. 28—30 

reign of Walld I (the king-list published in J. P. N. Land (ed.), Anecdota Syriaca, 
vol. ii, Leyden 1868, p. 11 of the 'Addenda', and the chronicle of Jacob of 
Edessa, in Chronica Minora, pp. 327 = 2 5 1 ; for the date of Jacob's chronicle, 
see Michael the Syrian, Chronique, vol. iv, p. 450 = vol. ii, p. 483). 


1 . The inscriptions of the Dome of the Rock attest the messianic status of Jesus, 
the acceptance of the prophets, Muhammad's receipt of revelation, and the use 
of the terms islam and muslim (Van Berchem, Corpus, part two, vol. ii, nos. 215, 

2 . Note particularly the tradition that Wall d I wrote to all regions ordering the 
demolition and enlargement of the mosques (Kttab al-uyun u>a' l-hadd' iq, in M. 
de Goeje and P. de Jong (eds.), Fragmenta Historicorum Arabicorum, vol. i, Leyden 
1869, p. 4). 

3. Note also the extermination of the pig decreed by "Abd al-Malik (see for 
example Chronica Minora, pp. 2 3 2 =1 76). 

4. We are indebted to Professor J. van Ess for making available to us the text 
of his unpublished paper 'Early development of kalam', read at the Colloquium 
on the Formative Period of Islamic History held at Oxford in July 1975, in 
which he summarised the results of his researches. 

5 . The reader of the following pages who is unfamiliar with the basic vocabulary 
of Judaism should note that Judaic learning is divided in content into halakha (law) 
and haggada (the rest), and in form into midrash (exposition of scripture) and 
mishna (oral tradition). 

6. The Memar Marqah hardly represents a halakhic approach to the Pentateuch, 
and the literature of Samaritan law as it later appears in Arabic hardly suggests an 
entrenched and religiously prominent halakhic tradition. 

7. Apart from the list of Muhammad's prohibitions given by Sebeos (see above, 
p. 7), and occasional indications elsewhere of the content of Hagarene law, what 
the non-Islamic sources have to say about the overall character of this law is 
pretty well exhausted by three references : the insistence on the scriptural founda- 
tion of law in the dialogue between the patriarch and the emir (see above, p. 168, 
n. 2b); Bar Penkaye's mention ofthe laws (namose) and oral tradition (mashlmanuta) 
of Muhammad (Mingana, Sources syriaques, pp.* i46f = * 17 5); and the curious 
array of sources of law adduced by the monk of Bet Hale (see above, p. 167, n. 14). 

8. J. Schacht, The Origins of Muhammedan Jurisprudence, Oxford 1950, pp. 

9. J. Schacht, An Introduction to Islamic Law, Oxford 1964, pp. 10—14. 

1 o. On the Islamic side, we have the striking insistence on a scripturally based 
law in Koran 5 47— 5 2 ; on the Christian side, we have the emir in his disputation 
with the patriarch demanding to be told the scriptural basis of Christian law (see 
above, p. 1 68, n. 20). In neither case is any mention made of the category of oral 


Notes to p. 30 

tradition (cf. the curious scriptural status of the Koranic cognate of mishnah 
above, p. 167, n. 12). Note also that the alternative to Sachau's dating of Simeon ol 
Rewardashir would place him in the mid-seventh century (cf. below, note 1 8) 

1 1 . Schacht, Origins, p. 99. It is thus by no means obvious that Schacht is right 
to derive the Islamic notion of the ijma of the scholars from a Roman opinh 
prudentium (id., Introduction, p. 20) rather than from the comparable Judaic 
notions (see for example Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot, f. 9a, for the principle, 
and ff. 2a, 2b for applications). There is, of course, no lack of Judaic influence on 
the substantive law of Islam in its more religious aspects (see particularly A. J. 
Wensinck, 'Die Entstehung der muslimischen Reinheitsgesetzgebung', Der 
Islam 1 9 14; we are indebted to Dr M. J. Kister for drawing our attention to this 
study). For what follows, see also above, pp. 37^ 

12. Schacht, Origins, especially pp. 2 2 of. Despite the paucity of evidence for 
the concrete character of inter-communal relations, the curious penumbra between 
Judaism and Islam attested by Shaybani (see. I. Goldziher, 'Usages juifs d'apres 
la litterature religieuse des musulmans', Revue des etudes juives 1894, pp. 9 if) 
suggests one possible milieu for the transmission of ideas from the one to the 
other. Note also how the notion of mukhalafat ahl al-kftab is in practice directed 
against the Jews, not the Christians (ibid., p. 80). 

13. Sc. both written and oral 

14. B. Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript, Uppsala 1961, p. 82n. Cf. also 
the idea that even the words of an astute pupil in the presence of his master are 
given on Sinai (ibid., p. i73n). 

1 5. Schacht, Origins, pp. 44, 76; cf. also pp. 70, 72 on Awza'i. Contrast the 
insistence of Shafi'i that opinions not actually transmitted from the Prophet may 
not be regarded as implicidy going back to him (ibid., 1 7). 

16. Schacht, Origins, pp. 224—7. 

17. Thus despite the fact that the ordinance of Koran 60:10 constitutes the 
classical and unchallenged scriptural basis of the prohibition of the marriage of 
Muslim women to non-Muslims, Ibn Mas'ud is recorded as merely imploring 
his sister to marry a Muslim, be he a red Rumi or a black Habashi, without 
reference to this or any other Koranic sanction ('Abdallah b. Ahmad ibn 
Qudama, Kitab al-mughni, ed. M. Rashid Rida, Cairo 1922-30, vol. vii, p. 
372). Equally it is hard to imagine how the self-satisfaction of the hadith in its 
espousal of the stoning penalty for adultery against Jewish deviation from their 
own scripture could ever have arisen in a milieu which knew the Koran and its 
clear requirement of flagellation (cf. G. Vajda, 'Juifs et musulmans selon le 
hadit', Journal asiatique 1937, pp. 93-9); whence the drastic character of the 
remedy subsequently attempted, the invention of a Koranic sanction for stoning 
allegedly omitted from the codex. 

1 8. Two Nestorian legal works from Fars, the first definitely and the second 
tentatively dated by their editor to the second half of the eighth century (Sachau, 
Syrische Rechtsb'ucher, vol. iii, pp. ix (Isho'bokht), xixf (Simeon of Rewardashir)), 
contain apologetic introductions on the status of Christian law (dine) (pp. 2—23, 


Notes to pp. 30—51 

210—35). The general polemical context is clear from Isho'bokht's citation of the 
claim of the Jews and hanpe (here presumably the Muslims) that the Christians 
have no dine (pp. 20 = 21). While Isho'bokht's tendency is rather to assert the 
native antinomianism of Christianity and thus to deny the need for a specifically 
Christian civil law (see for example the passage just referred to, and compare 
Patriarch Timothy's introduction to his law-book of 805, ibid., vol. ii, pp. 54 = 
55), Simeon's tendency is more obviously syncretic : he presents what was substan- 
tially a profane legal heritage as formally Christian oral tradition {ibid., vol. iii, 
pp. 233 = 232—4), and explicitly defends this oral as opposed to scriptural 
foundation of Christian law (pp. 231—3 = 230—4). Compare also the concern 
with the sources of Christian law among the Elamites in the same period (O. Braim 
(ed. and tr.), Timothei Patriarcbae I Epistulae, I (= CSCO, Scriptores Syri, vols, 
xxxf), Louvain 1914^ pp. 102—6 = 67— 9; the letter in question is dated to the 
years 795— 8 in R. J. Bidawid, Les lettres du patriarche nestorien TimotheeI,Rome 
19 56, p. 74). There is no trace of any such concern in the two pre-eighth-century 
works published by Sachau. 

19. Schacht, Origins, pp. 4of (citing Shafi'i on the ahl al-kalam); J. van Ess, 
'Ein unbekanntes Fragment des Nazzam', in Der Orient in der Forschung: Fests- 
chrift fur Otto Spies, Wiesbaden 1967. 

20. This chain is set out in the Mishnaic tractate Abot. 

2 1 . See Abraham ibn Daud, The Book of Tradition, ed. and tr. G. D. Cohen, 
London 1967, especially the editor's introduction. 

22. This activity is not of course unrepresented in the Mishna itself. 

23. A. Paul, Ecrits de Qumran et sectes juives aux premiers siecles de I'Islam: Re- 
cherches sur I'origine.du Qaraisme, Paris 1969. 

24. We assume Mu'tazilism to have been in the first instance a style of the- 
ology and only secondarily an attitude to the sources of law. With a more cavalier 
attitude to the historicity of the Islamic sources, one could of course invert the 
sequence: compare the term i'thgl with the insistence of 'Anan that his followers 
separate (pfs) themselves from those around them (N. Wieder, TheJudean Scrolls 
and Karaism, London 1962, pp. i54f; cf. a tenth-century rabbinic reference 
to the 'separatists {muvdele) of the children of Israel' who make a covenant with the 
'separatists of the children of Ishmael' regarding the beginning of the month, 
J. Mann in .Hebrew Union College Annual iQijf, pp. 442 = 422); and note 
how for Ibn Qutayba, as not for Shafi'i, the Mu'tazila have become ahl al- 
na%ar who engage in the rationalist criticism of traditions (Schacht, Origins, 
P- 45)- 

2 5. But only just: note how Binyarnin al-Nahawandl, in the generation before 
Karaism developed its neo-Qumranic character, was slipping back into the 
familiar grooves of rabbinic law (Paul, Ecrits de Qumran, p. 87). 

26. For the failure to develop a concrete Mu'tazilite law, see Schacht, Origins, 
p. 258. 

27. Schacht, Origins, p. 2 59; cf. also J. van Ess, 'Dirar b. 'Amr und die "Cah- 
miya". Biographic einer vergessenen Schule', Der Islam 1968, pp. 43—6. 


Notes to pp. 

28. The equivalence is not merely conceptual: whereas the mishna of the 
Muslims 'leans' on a chain of authorities (isnad), that of the Jews 'leans' on a 
Biblical verse (asmabjbta) (J. Horovitz, 'Alter und Ursprung des Isnad', Der 
Islam 1 91 8, p. 47). 

29. Unless of course the Karaite movement, despite its Judaic doctrinal ante- 
cedents, was precipitated by Islamic influence (cf. above, p. 38). 

30. Schacht, Origins, p. 28. 

31. It can be presented as a decision to apply across the board the mishnaic 
notion of a Mosaic halakha from Sinai (W. Bacher, Tradition und Tradenten in 
den Scbulen Palastinas und Babyloniens, Leipzig 1914, chapter 3), in combination 
with the talmudic maxim that 'if you can trace back the chain of authorities to 
Moses, do so' (Horovitz, 'Alter und Ursprung des Isnad', p. 46). It can even 
be seen as the culmination of trends already at work among the rabbis (for the 
amoraic tendency to extend the domain of application of the idea of a Mosaic 
halakha from Sinai, see Bacher, Tradition und Tradenten, pp. 41 f; for the 
touching-up of two of the three specific Mosaic isnads of the Mishna in Tosefta 
and Talmud, ibid., pp. 2 jf; for the improvement of the general isnad of Abot 
in die later Abot de Rabbi Natan, ibid., p. 2 7). But it remains that the notion of a 
Mosaic halakha from Sinai was basically a last resort of the rabbis when the 
resources of scripture had failed them (ibid., pp. 34f), and that die few Mosaic 
isndds which the rabbis concocted look pretty forlorn by the standards of Islamic 

32. J. D. Purvis, The Samaritan Pentateuch and the Origin of the Samaritan Sea, 
Cambridge, Mass. 1968. 

33. Chronica Minora, pp. 71 = 56. Cf. the accounts in the Islamic tradition of 
his attempt to remove the minbar of the Prophet to Syria (G. R. Hawting, The 
Umayyads and the Hijaz', in Proceedings of the Fifth Seminar for Arabian Studies, 
London 1972, pp. 42f). 

34. For the extent of other Umayyad building activity in Jerusalem, see M 
Ben-Dov, The Omayyad Structures near the Temple Mount', published with 
B. Mazar, The Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem near the Temple Mount', 
Jerusalem 197 1. 

35. Cf. the snide observation of the astrologers reported by Birun! that the 
authority of the 'Abbisid caliph had become purely spiritual in the manner of the 
Jewish Erilarch (W. Madelung, The Assumption of the Title Shahanshah by the 
Buyids and "The Reign of Daylam (DatAat al-Daylam)"', Journal of Near 
Eastern Studies 1969 bis, p. 98). 

36. See for example I. Goldziher, Muslim Studies, London 1967, 1 971, vol. ii, 
pp. 93—7. There could hardly be a more appropriate destruction of the category of 
redemption than the account given by Muslim writers of God's justification to 
Moses of the length of Pharoah's reign: 'during his rule he keeps the roads safe', 
etc (A K. S. Lamb ton, 'Islamic Mirrors for Princes', in Atti del Convegno Inter- 
nationale sul tenia: La Persia nd Midioevo, Rome i97i,pp. 43), 437). 

37. Cf. above, p. 24, and a 37 thereto. 


Notes to pp. }}-42 

B. But not of course in the Imaml case, where the restoration of the ghetto is 
implete: one tenth-century Imaml writer even contrives to bend the notion of 
ijra to refer it to the action of the Hashimids in joining the Prophet during the 
rolonged state of siege to which he was subjected in the precincts of 'Abd al- 
luttalib in Mecca (E. Kohlberg, The Attitude of the Imami-Shi 'is to theCom- 
mions of the Prophet, Oxford Ph.D. 1971, p. 94). 

j. E. Kohlberg, "The Development of the Imaml Shi'I Doctrine of jihad', 
eitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandiscben Gesellschaft 1976. 

7. Even the cheerfully adaptive quietism of Pollio and Sameas had turned 
j the fact that Herod was an Edomite (E. Schurer, The History of the Jewish 
•ople in the Age of Jesus Christ fi/j B.C.—A.D. 1 revised by G. Vermes and 
( Millar, vol. i, Edinburgh 1973, p. 296). 

I. The equation of the two in the Islamic category of makf has excellent 
idaic antecedents (cf. ibid., p. 376n). 

\. I.e. detaining the army in the field, especially over winter. Characteristically 
'is the grievances of the conquerors, not those of the conquered, that place the 
oral status of the conquest in jeopardy. 

j. Compared to the dimensions of pro-'Alid sentiment in Islam, those of pro- 
mayyad sentiment are derisory: a matter of such oddities as the Nabita (W. 
.adelung, Der Imam al-Qasim ibn Ibrahim und die Glaubenslehre der Zaiditen, 
:rlin 1965, Exkurs I), the Yezidis, and the Marwanites of Central Asia (V. V. 
utol'd, 'Musul'manskaya sekta mervanitov', ligestiya Imperatorskpy Akadtmii 
'auk 191 5)- 

\. Except of course in the case of the Imamis, who are not their own jailors and 
\ have a past to mourn: because the imamate can be seen as the victim of over- 
timing external malice, it is also what the mahdi, by virtue of his identity with 
e last imam, will restore. 

j. Nau, 'Revelations et legendes', p. 437. 



Note for example the determination of Marxism to generate out of the 
ijective logic of its impersonal concepts the subjective solidarity of a chosen 
iss. But then this whole system is a precarious fusion of the conceptual legacy 
' Greece with the redemptive legacy of Israel. 

See particularly M. L. West, Early Greek. Philosophy and the Orient, 
xford 1971. 

Ahura Mazda is thus a doctrinal invention as Yahweh is a contractual 
jrrowing: it would seem that ethnic Gods do not come altogether naturally. 

The phrase in fact appears in the Elamite version of the Behistun inscription 
h H. Weissbach, Die Keilinschrifien der Achameniden, Leipzig 191 1, pp. 64—7 ; 
e owe this reference to Professor J. M. Cook). 

The activities of Kartir would appear to be die exception. Most attempts to 


Notes to pp. 42—4} 

convert what we would regard as non-Iranians relate to Armenia, and the key to 
this is presumably, politics aside, the earlier Iranicisation of the country. 

6. Manichaeism is the most consistently cosmopolitan of all faiths; but where 
metaphor was enough to generate Pauline Christianity, Mani had to reject matter, 
to transpose the beauty of Ahura Mazda's creation into demonic excrement, 
in order to purge dualism of its Iranian identification (G. Widengren, Mani 
and Manichaeism, London 1965, p. 55). 

7. For Xerxes and the daivadana, see R. G. Kent, Old Persian: Grammar, Texts, 
Lexicon, New Haven, 1950, p. 151; for the Sasanid period, R. C. Zaehner, 
Zurvan: A Zoroastrian Dilemma, Oxford 1955, pp. 25, 53. 

8. G. Rawlinson, The Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World 2 , 
London 1871, vol. iii, p. 164a 

9. The Zoroastrian sanctification of social structure is not of course so single- 
minded as the Hindu. It would have come very oddly in the Iranian context to 
have equated orthodoxy with the acceptance of Aryan social structure ; and Mazda- 
kites could denounce this social structure in the name of Zoroaster as dissident 
Indians could hardly do in the name of the Vedas. 

10. See for example Kent, Old Persian, pp. 117 = 119, 129 = 131. 

1 1. Suppose an earlier and more sustained Persian threat had shaped the lives 
of a more substantial part of the Greek population: might not such intellectual 
tendencies as the theistic emphasis on the justice of Zeus and the rather Zoroaster- 
like mission of Heraclitus (West, Early Greek. Philosophy, pp. 1 92f ) have fused with 
such political effects of the Persian invasions as the incipient discredit of the 
Delphic oracle and incipient unification in the shape of the Delian League? But 
the fact remains that when the Greeks eventually opted for theism, they had to 
import Yahweh rather than resuscitate Zeus; just as when Byzantium eventually 
became the metropolis of a Greek empire, it did so as a new Rome rather than a 
new Athens. 

1 2. There was plenty of ethnic chauvinism to find expression in Aristode's view 
that barbarians were natural slaves ; but it was a scientifically weak and historically 
self-defeating position, whereas the divine election of the Aryans was a religiously 
strong and historically self-reinforcing tenet. 

1 3. Though Firabi believed that it had, and equally traced its origins to Meso- 
potamia : both moves which, whatever their historical inaccuracy, are conceptually 
apt (R. Walzer, L'Eveil de la philosophie islamique, Paris 1 971, p. 19). 

14. As Epicurus memorably expressed it, 'the things which I know, the multi- 
tude disapproves, and of what the multitude approves, I know nothing' (E. R. 
Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational, Berkeley and Los Angeles 195 1, p. 241). 
The commitment of the philosophical elite to the conceptual conquest of the masses 
is historically a very recent phenomenon. 

15. It comes closest to becoming so in Plato's response to the threat of popular 
democracy and Julian the Apostate's to that of popular Christianity. 

16. It is of course also true that the Platonic republic, after its Zaydi mis- 


Notes to pp. 45—49 

adventure in Syracuse, was already deposited by its founder in zghayba from which 
the intermittent efforts of a Farabi or a Plethon did not suffice to bring about its 
return. But if Plato came to be above politics, it was the politics of the city state 
that he was above. 

1 7. The Iranian equivalent to the Romans is thus the Mazdakites : the Romans 
illustrate the risk one takes in telling one's truths to one's neighbours, the Mazdakites 
the risk one takes in telling them to one's masses. 

18. Marcionism, had it prevailed, would have freed Christianity from the 
incubus of its Judaic scriptures; compare the cultural role of Zen Buddhism in 
China. And indeed the Zen injunction to kill the Buddha should you meet him 
finds its Christian resonance in Luther's recommendation that that we should beat 
Moses to death and throw many stones at him (for these murderous intents, see 
K. K. S. Ch'en, The Chinese Transformation of Buddhism, Princeton, N. J. 1973, 
p. 11, and P. D. L. Avis, 'Moses and the Magistrate: a Study in the rise of 
Protestant Legalism', The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 197 5, p. 15 2). But for 
all Luther's table talk, the Christian decision against Marcion was early and 

19. J. M. Hussey, ChurchandLearningintheByi^ntineEmpire867—iiS;,'^tv, 
York 1963, pp. 91, 94, 112. 

20. The change of usage in the last century of Byzantine history merely re- 
located the problem : if the Byzantine Christians were Hellenes, it was only logical 
of Plethon to return to paganism (see S. Runciman, The Last By-qtntine Renaissance 
Cambridge 1970, pp. 14-23). 

2 1 . The one field in which Latin compelled attention was of course law : contras t 
the fourth-century problem of keeping legal Latinity in the east within bounds 
with the eleventh-century problem of reviving it (J. H. W. G. Liebeschuetz, 
Antioch: City and Imperial Administration in the Later Roman Empire, Oxford 
1972, pp. 242—55; Hussey, Church and Learning, p. 56). 


I. Cf. the contempt which the Hellenised authors of the Corpus Hermeticum 
evince for the masses while at the same time retaining all their contempt for the 
■Greeks (P. Derchain in P. Grimal et al., Hellenism and the Rise of Rome, London 
1968, p. 217). 

2. . For a perceptive account of these changes see P. Brown, The World of Late 
Antiquity, London 1971. 

3. O. Seeck, Die BriefedesLibaniustiitlich geordnet, Leipzig 1906, s.n. Eutropius 

4. Eunapius, Lives of the Philosophers, ed. and tr. E. H. Warrnington and W. 
Wright, London 1968, pp. 352ff. 

5. Cf. the lack of interest in converting the barbarians beyond the imperial 
frontiers (E. A. Thompson, 'Christianity and the Northern Barbarians', in A. 


Notes to pp. 4j>— j j 

Momigliano (ed.), The Conflict between Paganism and Christianity in the fourth , 
Century, Oxford 1963, p. 64); it is particularly striking that the attempt to export 
Christian truth in such a fashion appeared as a category mistake even to an Arian 

(ibid., p. 69). 

6. Cf. the key role of the emperor in the development of conciliar decision 

7. Cf. Ephraem the Syrian's insistence that the yoke of the faith is one and the 
same for the learned and the ignorant, the astute and the simple (E. Beck, Die 
Thealoge des Hi. Ephraem in seinen Hymnen uber den Glauben (= Studia Ansel- 
miana, fasc. sxi), Rome 1949, p. 64). 

8. Cf . P. Brown, 'Christianity and Local Culture in Late Roman Africa', Journal 
of Roman Studies 1968, p. 90. 

9. M.-L. Chaumont, 'Recherches sur le clerge zoroastrien: le herbad', Revue de 
I'histoire des religions i960, pp. 71—6. 

10. P. Lacau, 'Un graffito egyptien d'Abydos ecrit en lettres grecques', Etudes 
de papyrologie 1934. 

11. P. Jouguet, 'Le roi Hurgonaphor et les revokes de la Thebai'de', in 
Melanges 0. Navarre, Toulouse 1935, pp. 265—73. 

12. C. Preaux, 'Esquisse dune histoire des revolutions egyptiennes sous les La- 
gides', Chronique d'Egypte 1936. 

13. W. Tarn and G. T. Griffith, Hellenistic Civilisation 3 , London 1966, pp. 


14. R. MacMullen, 'Nationalism in Roman Egypt', Aegyptus 1964, pp. 183^ 
Palladius, The Paradise or Garden of the Holy Fathers, tr. E. A. W. Budge, London 
1907, vol. i, pp. 114, 134, 135. 

15. A. H. M. Jones, The Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces 2 , Oxford 1 9 7 1 , 
pp. 29jff; H. I. Bell, "Hellenic Culture in Egypt', Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 
1922, pp. i46f. 

16. For the ackninistration of Roman Egypt see Jones, Cities, pp. 3 i4ff. 

17. M. Rostovtzeff, Rome, London i960, p. 225. 

1 8. W. Otto, Priester und Tempel im hellenistischen Agypten, Leipzig and Berlin 
1905—8, vol. i, pp. 58ff, 4031?. 

19. J. G. Milne, A History of Egypt under Roman Rule 3 , London 1924, p. 52. 

20. Asclepius, chapters 24ft in A. D. Nock and A.-J. Festugiere (ed. and tr.), 
Corpus Hermeticum, Paris 1945—54, vol. ii, pp. 326-9. 

21. E. Iversen, 'Fragments of a Hieroglyphic Dictionary', Historiskrfdologiskf 
Skrifter Kongelige Danshf V idenskabernes Selskab 1958; P. Scott-Moncrieff, 
Paganism and Christianity in Egypt, Cambridge 191 3, p. 23. 

22. L. Kakosy, 'Prophecies of Ram Gods', Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientia- 
rum Hungaricae 1966; MacMullen, 'Nationalism in Roman Egypt', pp. i84f. 

23. Antinoopolis is the only exception (Jones, Cities, p. 311). 


Notes to pp. j 2— 

24. There is no evidence of Alexandrian hostility after the Acts of the Pagan 
Martyrs (ed. H. A. Musurillo, Oxford 1954), cf. A. H. M Jones, "Were Ancient 
Heresies National or Social Movements in Disguise?', Journal of Theological 
Studies 19 59, pp. 286f. 

25. W. H. C. Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church, Oxford 
1965, pp. 5 39ff; R. MacMullen, 'Provincial Languages in the Roman Empire', 
American Journal of Philology 1966, pp. iof; H. I. Bell, Jeus and Christians in 
Egypt, Oxford 1924, chapter 2. 

26. Brown, The World of Late Antiquity, pp. 96ff. 

27. A pagan grammarian and priest of Thoth who fought against the Christians 
in Alexandria, see Seeck, Briefe, s.n. Ammonius II. 

28. For St Anthony as a schoolboy, see S. Athanasius, 'Vita S. Antonii', in PG, 
vol. xxvi, col. 841. For his later equation of paganism and Greek philosophy, see 
below, p. 1 89, n. 60. 

29. Palladius, Paradise, vol. i, p. 181. 

30. Cf. Paul the Hermit's impressive display of ignorance to St Anthony: are 
there still cities in the world, still kings, and are governors still subject to the errors 
of the devil? (Palladius, Paradise, vol. i, p. 200). 

31. D. Chitty, The Desert a City, Oxford 1 966, p. 4 ; Palladius, Paradise, vol. i, 
pp. 2 36ff ; cf. A. F. Shore, 'Christian and Coptic Egypt', in J. R. Harris (ed.), The 
Legacy of Egypt 2 , Oxford 1971, pp. 402f. 

32. Shore, 'Christian and Coptic Egypt', pp. 40 j, 408; F. R. Farag, Socio- 
logical and Moral Studies in the Field of Coptic Monasticism, Leyden 1 964, pp. 
11—35; P. van Cauwenbergh, Etudes sur les moines d'Egypte depuis le concile de 
Chalcedone (4J1) jusqu'd I'invasion arabe (640), Paris 1914, pp. 159, 172. 

33. Palladius, Paradise, vol. i, pp. 291-3, 301— 4; Chitty, The Desert a City, 
pp. 2 off. 

34. Palladius, Paradise, vol. i, pp. 169, 175, 326, 334, 3 56 etc. 

35. Ibid., vol. i, pp. 3 7 if. 

36. Cf. Ibid., vol. i, p. 344: 'and the word ofthe Prophet concerning the church 
among the gentiles was fulfilled and was completed also by the desert of Egypt, for 
the sons of God were more numerous there than in the land which had become 
settled and occupied by people'. 

37. Ibid., vol. i, p. 333; cf.thestory of Paesius and Isaiah, ibid., vol. i, pp. io8f, 
and the monks who find men more pious than themselves among the tailors or 
herdsmen of some village, ibid., vol. ii, pp. 149—5 1. 

38. For the diocese and the direct jurisdiction of the Patriarch over his bishops, 
cf. E. R. Hardy, Christian Egypt, Church and People, New York 1952, pp. io8f. 

39. Meletius was bishop of Lycopolis in Upper Egypt, not Patriarch of Alexan- 
dria; for his monastic support, see Bell, Jews and Christians, pp. 38ff; Frend, 
Martyrdom, p. 540. 


Notes to pp. }}—}4 

40. Frend, Martyrdom, p. 541 ; the alliance is neady symbolised by the alleged 
appearance of Shenute with Cyril at Ephesus in 431 (Shore, 'Christian and 
Coptic Egypt*, p. 413). 

41. W. H. C. Frend, The Rise of the Monophysite Movement, Cambridge 1972. 

42. K.J. von Hefele, Histoire des conciles, tr. H. Leclercq, Paris 1907—52, vol. 
ii, part one, pp. 584ff. 

43. E. L. Woodward, Christianity and Nationalism in the Later Roman Empire, 
London 1916, p. 42. The Pharaonic nickname of the Alexandrian patriarchs is of 
course usually abusive, cf. the accusation that Dioscorus thought that he rather 
than the prefect was the real ruler of Egypt (Hardy, Christian Egypt, p. 1 1 2); but 
what was a tyrant to the heretics was a hero to the orthodox. 

44. Jones, Cities, pp. 327ff. 

45. Hardy, Christian Egypt, pp. no, 122. 

46. Id., The Large Estates of Byzantine Egypt, New York 193 1. 

47. Cf. the nobles and officials who constituted the following of the Melkite 
Proterius (Frend s Monophysite Movement, p. 1 5 5) as against the Ammon who re- 
nounced his wealth in Nitria in early times (Palladius, Paradise, vol. i, p. 3 77); but 
Ammon of course belonged to a period before Monophysite cenobitism had soft- 
ened the division between holiness and the world. 

48. For this family see Hardy, Large Estates, chapter 2 ; for their estates in 
Oxyrhynchus, Cynopolis, .Arsinois etc., their bucellarii, private prisons, postal 
service, racing stables, banks, tax-collectors, secretaries,' officials etc., ibid., index 
s.v. 'Apion estate', and H. I. Bell, Egypt from Alexander the Great to the Arab Con- 
quest, Oxford 1948, pp. i2 2f. 

49. Severus dedicated a book to Apion (Hardy, Christian Egypt, p. 122), but 
Apion converted to Chalcedonianism in 518, and his son Strategius was still a 
Chalcedonian in 533 (ibid., p. 1 34); but they were Monophysites again by 616 
when Strategius III played a leading role in the negotiations leading to the recon- 
ciliation of the Syrian and Egyptian patriarchs (ibid., p. 158). Their Chalcedonian- 
ism coincided with the peak in their accumulation of central offices (id.. Large 
Estates, p. 36). 

50. Hardy, Large Estates, pp. 140—4. 

51. Palladius, Paradise, vol. i, p. 361. 

52. Cf. the many legacies to the church (Hardy, Christian Egypt, p. 167); the 
warm relations between the congregation and the 'princes and officers' of Oxy- 
rhynchus (Palladius, Paradise, vol. i, p. 338); and the Duke of the Thebaid who 
sympathised with the Coptic church in the days in Justinian (Hardy, Christian 
Egypt, p. 142 ; he might of course have been an Apion). 

53. H. L. Jansen (ed. and tr.), The Coptic Story of Cambyses' Invasion of Egypt, 
Oslo 1950, p. 64. The fact that a village featuring in a Coptic hagiography is 
casually referred to as having been burnt down by Cambyses suggests that he still 
enjoyed a certain popular notoriety (O. von Lemm, 'Kleine Koptische Studien', 
no. xviii, in Iv^estiya Imperatorskpy Akfldemii Nauk. 1900, p. 64). 


Notes to pp. /4-ff 

54. Severus ibn al-Muqaffa c , History of the Patriarchs, in Patrologia Oriental is, 
vol. i, p. 498. 

55. Ziadeh, 'L'Apocalypsc de Samuel', pp. 379 = 395. 

56. Egypt has become the seat of God, the angels and the saints of the whole 
world, and there will be nothing like it until the end of time (H. Fleisch (ed. and 
tr.), 'Une homelie copte de Theophile d'Alexandrie', Revue tie I'orient chretien 
193 5f, pp. 383 = 382); most saints have either been Egyptians or Egypt has 
attracted them there, thus Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Jeremiah, John the 
Baptist and St Anthony; for where does the sun shine if not in Egypt, and in what 
should we glory if not in that which is our own? (G. Garitte, 'Panegyrique de 
Saint Antoine par Jean, eveque d'Hermopolis', Orientalia Christiana Periodica 
I 943- PP-.H9- 21 )- 

57. Asclepius, chapter 24, in Nock and Festugiere, Corpus Hermeticum, p. 327. 

5 8. Coptic doxology for the Feast of the Entry of Our Lord into the Land ot 
Egypt, cited in O. E. A. Meinardus, In the Steps of the Holy Family from Bethlehem 
to Upper Egypt, Cairo 1963, p. 15. 

59. W. Kosack, Die Legende im Koptischen, Bonn 1970, pp. 8off. 

60. As against the Hellenised elite who could read Homer, Anacreon, Menander 
and the like in the sixth-century deep south (J. Maspero, 'Un dernier poete grec 
d'Egypte: Dioscore fils d'Apollos', Revue des etudes grecques 191 1), we have St 
Anthony who despised paganism as derived from Greek philosophy which inspired 
no martyrs and asked questions instead of answering them (Frend, Monophysite 
Movement, p. 72), Shenute's contempt for Greek thinkers (ibid.) and things 
Greek in general (J. Leipoldt, Schenute von Atripe, Leipzig 1 90 3 , pp. 7 1 ff ) ; cf . also 
the equation of paganism tout court with Alexandrian devilry in Palladius, Paradise, 
vol. i, p. 199, and the devil who insists on swearing by Jupiter and Hercules (ibid. , 
pp. 128, 194). 

61. Cf. Philoponus' argument in the Monophysite interest that the king is not 
the image of God and that government rests upon the free will of the governed 
(Frend, Monophysite Movement, p. 59). 

62. Cf. Asclepius, chapter 24, in Nock and Festugiere, Corpus Hermeticum, p. 
326, and Derchain in Grimal, Hellenism and the Rise of Rome, p. 217. 

63. Cf. above, p. 115. 

64. A T. Olmstead, History of Assyria, London and New York 1923, p. 640. 

65. S. K. Eddy, The King is Dead: Studies in Near Eastern Resistance to Hellenism 
$54—31 B.C., Lincoln, Neb. 1961, p. 102. 

66. W. Andrae, Das wiedererstandeneAssur, Leipzig 1938, p. i69;M. Meuleau 
in Grimal, Hellenism and the Rise of Rome, pp. 272, 273. 

67. Cf. the continued use of the old Assyrian names (S. Smith, 'Notes on the 
"Assyrian Tree'", Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies 1926, p. 69). 

68. Andrae, Assur, pp. 17 iff. 

69. The lifespan of this kingdom was hardly much shorter than that of the 
Parthians. It appears for the first time as a kingdom of some age in AD. 44 when 


Notes to pp. J J— J 6 

king Izates II converted to Judaism (P. Kahle, The Cairo Genirtg, London 1947, 
pp. 1 §4ff ); and though Trajan briefly incorporated it in the Roman Empire as the 
province of Assyria (Paulys Realencyclopadie der clessischen Ahertumstdssenschaft 1 , _ 
id. G. Wissowa, Stuttgart 1893— s.v. 'Adiabene'), later kings appear in Syriac 
sources (Msiha-Zkha in Mingana, Sources syriaques, pp. 2 j, 28 = loif, 105), and 
Arabic sources imply that it was finally destroyed by Ardashir (J. Marquart, 
OsKuropaische und ostasiatische Streifcpge, Leipzig 1903, p. 299ns cf. Msiha- 
Zkha in Mingana, Sources syriaques,^. 31 = 108). For the Assyrian identification 
of the kingdom, see the 'Doctrine of Addai' in W. Cureton (ed. and tr.), Ancient 
Syriac Documents, London and Edinburgh 1864, pp. 15 = 16, where the 
Jiscipies-of Addai return to 'their own country of the Assyrians' in the time of 
Narsai 'the Icing of the Assyrians'; cf. also ibid., pp. 34 = 34. 

70. A Sasanid prince henceforth held the title of king of Adiabene, thus Ardashir 
JI before his accession (A. Christensen, L'lrait sous Us Sassanides 2 , Copenhagen 
• 944, pp. 102, 312). 

t i . In the days of Shapur when princes were everywhere called kings there was 
one P'.siar in the province of Darsus (Hoffmann, Aus-qige, pp. 9f); at the time of 
Julian the Apostate there was one Sanherib, king of Athor, a Magian whose son 
converted to Christianity (P. Bedjan (ed.), Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum, Paris 
1890-7, vol. ii, p. 401 = Hoffmann, Aust^ge, p. 17); Mar Kardag, of great 
royal race, a descendant of Nimrod and Sennacherib, held the office of marzban of 
Assyria for the Sasanids until his conversion (J. B. Abbeloos (ed. and tr.), 'Acta 
Mar Kardaghi', Analecta Bollandiana 1890, pp. I2ff; cf. also below, p. 192, 
a. 99). 

72. Cf. the reaction of the Persian nobility to Izates' conversion: they asked 
Voiogeses for a Parthian prince as their king had abolished their ancestral customs 
(Marquart, Streiftyge, pp. 292 — 5). 

7 v In Babylon Ahura Mazda was identified with Bel, and similar expedients 
were presumably adopted in Assyria. 

74. Note how the Sennacheribid Kardag is invited to the Persian court by 
Shapur II before his appointment as marzban (Abbeloos, 'Acta Mar Kardaghi', 

pp. 53-15). 

7 5 . Unless of course they went Manichean, as indeed many of them did (cf. A. 
Voobus, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient (= CSCO, Subsidia, vols, xiv, 
xvii), Louvain 195 8— 60, vol. i, pp. 1 5 8f ) ; but a doctrine so hostile to matter was 
unlikely to retain the allegiances of men so attached to it once Christianity became 


76. Judaism, another ethnic faith, was unlikely to be successful in the long run : 
Izates and his family escaped the Persians, but ended up in Jerusalem. For the 
spread of Christianity see J. M. Fiey, Jalons pour une histoire de I'eglise en Iraq( = 
CSCO, Subsidia, vol. xxxvi), Louvain 1970, pp. 3 2ff; for the doctrinal and juris- 
dr.:nonsi separation from the west, ibid., pp. 66ff, 1 1 3ff. 

77. Fiey, Jalons, pp. 5 5— 65. 

78. A. R. Bellinger, 'Hyspaosines of Charax', Yak Classical Studies 1942; 


Notes to pp. j<f-jS 

Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopddie, s.v. 'Mesene'; cf. H. H. Schaeder, 'Hasan al- 
Ba$ri\ Der Islam 1923, pp. 4ff. Under the Sasanids princes of the house held the 
title of Meshanshah (Christensen, Iran, p. 102). 

79. Cf. the Babylonian kings of the Parthian period who appear in Ibn 
Wahshiyya (D. Chwolson, Uhr die Uberreste der altbabylonischen Literatur in arab- 
iscben Ubersetqing, St Petersburg 1 8 59, p. 137) and Mas'udi (Abu 1-rjasan 'Ali b. 
al-Husayn al-Mas'udi, Kitab muruj al-dhahab, ed. and tr. A. C. Barbierde Mey- 
nard and A. J.-B. Pavet de Courteille, Paris 1861—77, v °l- & P- J 6l). 

80. It is implied in Isho'dad's story of Nabu (van den Eynde, Commentaire, I. 
Genhe ( = CSCO, Scriptores Syri, vols, lxvii, lxxv), Louvain 1950, 1 95 5, pp. 
6 = 7). But geographically, Mesene was not Babylon, only its neighbour, and 
though the kings did hold both Seleucia and Babylon for a while, typically even 
the Parthians could not allow them to retain them. 

81. On the pagan side Ibn Waljshiyya fails to remember any genuine Baby- 
lonian kings, and remembers the spurious ones primarily as sages and wise men 
(Chwolson, Uberreste, passim); on the Persian side the Itavis tend to take over 
the political deeds of the genuine kings (A. Christensen, Les Kayanides, Copen- 
hagen 193 1, pp. 93ff, 119; H. Lewy, 'The Babylonian Background of the 
Kay Kaus Legend', Archiv Orientalnt 1949, pp. 29—33). 

82. J. Bidez, 'Les e'coles chaldeennes sous Alexandre et les Seleucides', Anmaire 
de I'Institut ' de philologie et d'bistoire orientates 1935. 

83. Or in other words, there was no such thing as a community of Babylonian 
Christians: lower Iraq simply happened to be the centre of the Christian mission 
in the Persian Empire and beyond. Compare the absence of an ethnic when Aggai is 
said to convert all the Assyrians and 'the areas around Babylon' (Cureton, Ancient 
Syriae Documents, pp. 34 = 34), and Kindi's reference to the Christians of lower 
Iraq as 'mongrels by the Chaldean delta' (W. Muir, The Apology of Al Kindy, 
London 1882, pp. 3 3f )- 

84. For the origins of the identification of things Chaldean and Magian. see 
J. Bidez and F. Cumont, Les mages hellenises, Paris 1938, vol. i, pp. 34f; for its 
persistence in the Christian east, ibid., pp. 42ff. 

85. The late-sixth-century Henana was a Chaldean, meaning a determinist 
(Babai, Liber de unione, ed. and tr. A. Vascbaldc ( = CSCO, Scriptores Syri, vols, 
xxxivf), Louvain 1953, pp. 109 = 77); the home of Giwargis, a Christian con- 
vert, was Chaldea in Babel where demons and created things are worshipped 
(Hoffmann, Aufipge, p. 93). 

86. Bedjan, Acta Martyrum, vol. ii, p. 507 = Hoffmann, Ausyiige, p- 43 ;com- 
pare the. role of Hud among Yemeni Muslims. 

87. P. Kriiger, 'Die Regenbitten Aphrem des Syrers', Oriens Christianus 1933, 
pp. 3 5f; J. M. Fiey, Assyrie chretienne, vol. iii, Beirut 1968, p. 20. 

88. Marquart, Streifipge, pp. 296 ff. 

89. Bedjan, Acta Martyrum, vol. ii, p. 509 = Hoffmann, Aun$ge, p. 44 (on pp. 
507 and 43 respectively it is Sardana who founds it). 


Notes top. j 8 

90. Bedjan, Acta Martyrum, vol, ii, p. 512 =- Hoffmann, Aunjigt, p. 46. 

91. Bedjan, Acta Martyrum, vol. ii, p. 507 = Hoffmann, Ausnjige, p. 43. 

92. E. A. W. Budge (ed. and tr.), The Histories ofRabban Hormrt^ the Persian 
and Rabban Bar 'Idta, London 1902, pp. 115, 159 = 166, 240. 

93. From Yoktan issued the thirteen nations speaking Syriac whose dwelling 
stretched from Sepharvaim to Mesha, i.e. the borders of Canaan to Mesene, with 
Elam as their limit (thus Isho'dad, van den Eynde, Commentaire, I. Genese, pp. 
1 3 if = 143; cf. Solomon of Basra, The Book, of the Bee, ed. and tr. E. AW. 
Budge, Oxford 1886, chapter xxii, pp. 36 = 36). 

94. Sachau, Syrische Rectsbucher, vol. iii, p. vii. 

95. Bedjan, Acta Martyrum, vol. iv, pp. i84ff. 

96. Cf. Bidez and Cumont, Les mages hellenises, vol. i, pp. 42ff. 

97. Nimrod teaches Ardashlr astrology and Zproastrian sexual malpractices in 
E. A. W. Budge (tr.), the Book, of the Cave of Treasures, London 1927, pp. 14 36 

98. A. Rucker, 'Zwei nestorianische Hymnen uber die Magier', Oriens Chris- 
tians i923;cf. U. Monneret de Viflard, Le Leggende orientali sui Magi evangelici, 
Rome 1952. 

99. In addition to the nobles cited above (p. 190, n. 71), note Razshah, a rich 
and respected man in Adiabene who converted together with his dependents 
(Msiha-Zkha in Mingana, Sources syriaques, pp. I4ff = 9off); the nobles of Ar- 
bela who wanted Sabrisho' as their metropolitan (A. Scher, 'Histoire du couyent 
de Sabriso", Revue de I'Orient chretien 1906, p. 187); the lord of Beth Gurbak, an 
upright believer and nobleman (Budge, Histories, pp. 136 = 201); the exceedingly 
rich father of Teris-Isho' who offered Bar 'Idta an expensive field (ibid., pp. 
143 = 214); the nobles of Bet Garmai and Bet Nuhadra who visited Mar Isho'- 
Sabran in prison (Isho'yahb of Adiabene, Histoire deJe'sus-Sabran, ed. with French 
summary by J.^B. Chabot, Paris 1897, p. 498); Isho'yahb of Adiabene, himself 
the son of a nobleman (Thomas of Marga, The Book of Governors, ed. and tr. E. A. 
W. Budge, London 1893, pp. 194 = 378); Thomas of Marga, who wrote his 
Book of Governors at the request of a governor of Adiabene who was probably the 
son of the magnate Sabrisho' who visited the monastery of the ascetic Sabrisho' 
(Scher, 'Histoire du couvent de Sabriso", p. i94n); and Mar Benjamin of Beth 
Nuhadra, the son of illustrious and famous parents, dignitaries at the Persian court, 
who later converted to Christianity (V. Scheil, 'La vie de Mar Benjamin', Revue de 
I'Orient chretien 1897, p. 247). 

100. Saba was of the house of Mihran (Bedjan, Acta Martyrum, vol. ii, p. 
636 = Hoffmann, AusTjige, p. 68, with the correct reading); Mar Yuhannan was 
of royal blood (Isho'denah, Livre de la chastete, ed. and tr. J.-B. Chabot, 
Paris 1896, pp. 4 = 230); similarly Mar Grigor (Hoffmann, Ausn^ge, p. 78); 
Golindukht and her relative belonged either to the Persian nobility or to the 
priesdy class (P. Peeters, 'Sainte Golindouch, martyre perse', Analecta Bollan- 
diana 1944, pp. 82, 105; P. Devos, 'Sainte Sinn, martyre sous Khosrau 1™ 
Anosarvan', ibid. 1946, pp. 94f). 


Notes to pp. ;S—js> 

101 The ideal is embodied in Joseph and Teqla from Khiizistan, who were 
exceedingly well-provided with the riches of this world which pass away and shall 
be dissolved, so that men-servants and maid-servants ministered unto them while 
they performed the service of angels with fasting and prayer (Budge, Histories, 
pp. 9 = 1 3f ). 

1 02. Whence the renunciation and/or martyrdom of Mar Kardag (see above, 
p. 190, n. 71), Yur>annanfromHazzawhowasanarcherintheking'sservice(Scher, 
'Histoire du couvent de Sabriso", pp. 189^, Tafaq who was domesticus to the 
king (Bedjan, Acta Martyrum, vol. iv, pp. 1 8 iff), Grigor who was governor of the 
northern frontier (Hoffmann, Aunjige, pp. 78f), and others. 

103. Whence the Christian secretary of the general of the royal cavalry (Isho'- 
yahb, Histoire de Jesus-Sabran, p. 495), the Christian chief of the prison into 
which Isho'-sabran was thrown {ibid., p. 496), and the many laymen prominent 
inside and outside the Sasanid court in J. M. Fiey, 'Les laics dans l'histoire de 
l'Eglise syrienne orientale', Proche-Orient chretien 1964. 

104. Fiey, Assyrie chretienne, vol. iii, p. 23; cf. 'Yazdin the faithful', 'Yazdin 
the good', 'Yazdin the virtuous', 'Yazdin the publican' (ibid., p. 25). 

105. As emerges partly from their concerted attempt to convert the Persian 
nobility, and partly from their reverent attitude to the Persian king; not only were 
they concerned to demonstrate the legality of their actions (cf. P. Devos, 'Abgar, 
hagiographe perse meconnu', Analecta Bollandiana 1965, p. 323), but they also 
equipped the tolerant Yazdegerd with all the attributes of a Constantine: like 
Constantine, Yazdegerd was victorious (Chabot, Synodkon Orientale, pp. 
20 = 258), held his kingship by the grace of God, made peace to reign in die 
universe (ibid., pp. 37 = 276), was a Christian (sic) and blessed among kings 
(Chronica Minora, pp. 137 = 107). No such warmth was ever displayed vis-a-vis 
the Muslim caliphs, tolerant or otherwise. 

106. W. F. Macomber, "The Theological Synthesis of Cyrus of Edessa', Orien- 
talia Christiana Periodica 1964. 

107. A. Voobus, History of the School ofNisibis ( = CSCO, Subsidia, vol. xxvi), 
Louvain 1965, pp. 257/; cf. id., 'Theological Reflexions on Human Nature iii 
Ancient Syriac Traditions', in P. J. Hefner (ed.), The Scope of Grace: Essays on 
Nature and Grace in Honor of Joseph Sittler, Philadelphia 1964. 

108. F. Heiler, Die Ostkirchen, Munich and Basel 1971, p. 317. 

1 09. A. Baumstark, 'Die nestorianische Schriften "de causis festorum" ', Oriens 
Christianas 1901, p. 340. 

110. Cf. P. Kriiger, 'Zum theologischen Menschenbild des Babai d. Gr.', Oriens 
Christianus i960; id., 'Das Problem des Pelagianismus bei Babai dem Grossen', 
ibid. 1962 ; id., 'Das Geheimnis der Taufe in den Werken Babais d. Gr.', ibid. 
1963; cf. also Isho'dad's confidence that by natural law men can distinguish 
between good and evil (van den Eynde, Commentaire, I. Genese, pp. 6jf = 71). 

in. "voobus, School ofNisibis. 

112. Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , s.v. 'Gondeshapur'. 


Notes to pp. jj> — o~i 

1 1 3. Voobus, School ofNisibis, pp. 204-7, 2 9°. 2 99> 3 1 1 ; Scfaer, 'Histoire 
du couvent de Sabriso", p. 184; Macomber, "Theological Synthesis', p. 7. 

: 14. Baumstark, Geschicbte der syrischen Literatur, pp. 1 if. 
ii ). Henana served his pupils delicacies from the scriptures salted with the 
elegant words of the philosophers (Barhadbeshabba, La cause de la fondation des 
ecoles, ed. and tr. A. Scher, in Patrologia Orientate, vol. iv, p. 392); Dadisho' 
Qatraya did not see why he should quote scripture or patristic literature on the 
excellence of the solitary life when the philosophers had said and practised it 
already (A. Mingana (ed. and tr.), 'Treatise on Solitude and Prayer by Dadisho 
Kairaya', in his Woodbrooke Studies, vol. vii, Cambridge 1934, f. 28b =' p. iii); 
the glory of Ninive consisted in having produced philosophers (Budge, Histories, 
pp. 159 = 240); Isho'dad is of the opinion that the scribes of Israel were instruc- 
ted in the secrets of geometry, arithmetic, rhetoric and philosophy (van den Eynde, 
Co-.nmentaire, I. Genese,pp. 6 = 7); and Thomas of Marga thinks that Izla was to 
die Nestorians what Athens had been to the Greeks {Book, of Governors, pp. 2 3 = 

1 1 6. The manual Instituta regularia divinae legis (in J. P. Migne, Patrologia 
Latina, Paris 1844—91, vol. lxviii) was composed by Paul the Persian, a graduate 
of Nisibis, and translated, presumably via Greek, into Latin by a quaestor sacri 
palati in Constantinople (A Voobus, 'Abraham De-Bet Rabban and his Role in the 
Hermeneutic Traditions of the School ofNisibis', The Harvard Theological Review 
1965, pp. 2Ilf). 

117. A. Voobus, "The Origins of Monasticism in Mesopotamia', Church 
History 195 1 ; cf. above, p. 63. 

n8. A. Riicker, 'Eine Anweisung fur geisdiche Ubungen nestorianischer 
Monche des 7. Jahrhunderts', Oriens Christianus 1934, p. 194. 

119. Chabot, Synodicon Orientate, pp. j6ff = 303]?. 

120. B. Spuler, Die morgenldndischen Kirchen, Leyden 1964, p. 129. 

1 j 1. Cf. A. J. Wensinck (tr.), Mystic Treatises by Isaac of Ninive, Amsterdam' 
1923, pp. jdiff. 

i;;2. Thus Martyrius (Sahdona), Qeuvres spirituelles, vols, i— iii, ed. and tr. A.- 
de Halleux (= CSCO, Scriptores Syri, vols, ixxxvif, xcf, exf), Louvain 1960—5, 
and die mystic treatises published by Mingana in his Woodbrooke Studies, vol. vii. 
Note how nazirites and theologians in Iraq come to share a common mystic orien- 
tation, if not a similar degree of orthodoxy, with the probably Messalian Liber 
gradmm (ed. and tr. M. Kmosko, in R. Graffin (ed.), Patrologia Syriaca, Paris 
1 804 '-1926, vol. iii) on the one hand, and Babai's Liber de unione on the other. 

1 :i 5 . Theodoretus of Cyrrhus, Therapeutique des maladies helUniques, ed. and 
tr. P. Canivet, Paris 1958, x: 53. Theodoretus died c. A.D. 460. 

1 14. The menace of Rome provoked the Egyptianising policy of Euergetes II 
in Egypt and the Hellenising policy of Antiochus Epiphancs in Syria; where 
Euergetes appointed the native Paos duke of the Thebaid, Epiphanes installed 
h'mself in Jewish and Samaritan temples. 


Notes to pp. 61—62 

125. J. Hastings (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Relief on and Ethics, Edinburgh 1908— 
26, s.nn. 'Philo Byblius', 'Sanchuniathon'. 

126. E., Der griecbische Roman 2 , Leipzig icjio.pp. 45 jff. Hispriesdy 
status is implied in his claim to descend from Helios. 

127. Despite Uranius' descent from the local god, his bid was for the status 
of Augustus Imperator (R. MacMullen, Enemies of the Roman Order, Cambridge, 
Mass. 1967, p. 224). 

128. Cf. her sponsorship of Apollonius of Tyana. 

129. A Syrian from Apamea, he led the Sicilian slave revolt of 1 36 B.C., styling 
himself 'Antiochus, king of the Syrians' (J. Vbgt, Stmkfur der antiken Sklaven- 
kriege, Mainz 1957, pp. i8f). 

130. Theodoretus, Tberapeutique, ii : 44- 6. 

1 '3 1. J. B. Segal, Edessa, the Blessed City, Oxford 1970, pp. gfif. 

132. Though of course the Hurrians may be perpetuated in the name Orhay/ 
Osrhoene; but it is typical of the Syrian predicament that even in the sixteenth 
century B.C. the Hurrians should have had an Aryan aristocracy. 

133. Western sources commonly identity them as Arabs (Pauly-Wissowa, 
Realencyclopddie, art. 'Edessa'); Syriac sources commonly as Parthian (see for 
example Cureton, Ancient Syriac Documents, pp. 41, 94 = 41, 93). Cf. Segal, 
Edessa, pp. 31, 170. 

1 34. It may of course be the native Phoenicia which is behind the messianic 
king of Baalbek (P. J. Alexander, The Oracle of Baalbek (= Dumbarton Oaks 
Studies, vol. x), Washington D.C. 1967, lines 20 5ff = p. 29), but it takes good 
eyes to see it. Even Edessa did not pine for the return of its Abgars. 

135'. As in the case of Rabbula (Overbeck, Opera selecta, p. 160). 

1 36. There are many examples in Seeck, Brief e des Libanius (see for example 
s.nn. 'Julianus VII', 'Ulpianus I', 'CyrillusIVGaianusVAddaeus'; the last-named 
is presumably identical with the Addai who was statelates in Edessa in 396, see 
F. C. Burkitt (ed. and tr.), Euphemia and the Goths, London 1 9 1 3 , pp. 46 = 1 3 1 ). 
' Cf. also the prominence of Syrian sophists in third-century Athens (F. Millar, 'P. 

Herennius Dexippus, the Greek World and the Third Century Invasions', Journal 
of Roman Studies 1969, pp. 16, 18). 

137. E. R. Dodds, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety, Cambridge 

138. Though of course the complaint of the Preacher that in much wisdom there 
is much sorrow reflects the common predicament 

1 39. Cf. the evidence of disillusion and scepticism adduced by Derchain in Gri- 
mal, Hellenism and the Rise of Rome, p. 220, and the fatalist occasionalism of the 
dictum that 'man is but clay and straw and God fashions him each day as he wishes' 
(ibid., p. 234). 

140. Ibid., pp. 238—41. 

141. See D. Chwolson, Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus, St Petersburg 1 8 5 6, for 


Notes to pp. 62—6$ 

the texts, and J. Hjarpe, Analyse critique des traditions arabes sur les Sabe'ens 
hart aniens, Uppsala 1972, for an analysis. 

142. Cf. the impressive list of gods lined up by Jacob of Sarug in his dis- 
course on the fall of the idols (Abbe Martin, 'Discourse de Jacques de Saroug sur la 
chute des idols', Zeitschrift der Deutscben Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 1875), 
Tatian's plea that there should be only one law (Oratio adversus Graecos, in PG, 
vol. vi, col. 865), and Bardesanes' comment that the unbelievers are the prey of 
every fear and know nothing for certain (Liber legum regionum, ed. and tr. F. Nau, 
in Patrologia Syriaca, vol. i, part one, col. 543). 

143. For all this compare P. L. Berger and T. Luckmann, The Social Construction 
of Reality, Harmondsworth 1971, especially pp. 110—22; P. L. Berger, The 
Sacred Canopy, New York 1967, especially pp. 19—28, 48—52, i26ff. 

144. Cf. P. Brown, 'Sorcery, Demons and the Rise of Christianity: from Late 
Antiquity into the Middle Ages', in his Religion and Society in the Age of St. Augus- 
tine, London 1972, especially pp. I32ff. 

145. Demons of disease were of course as common in Syria as elsewhere (cf. 
A. Adnes and P. Canivet, 'Guerisons miraculeuses et exorcismes dans l'"Histoire 
Philothee" de Theodoret de Cyr', Revue de I'histoire des religions 1967, for 
examples from a relatively sober author); similarly the demons of passion who 
attack the concupiscent part of the soul, conjuring up friends, relatives, women 
and similarly tempting sights, to use Evagrius' phraseology (A. Guillaumont, 'Un 
philosophe au desert: Evagre le pontique', ibid. 1972, pp. 36—42); it is as such 
that they tempt Mar Benjamin (Scheil, 'La vie de Mar Benjamin', pp. 2} of). 

1 46. For the Messalian concept of the indwelling demon, see Voobus, History of 
Asceticism, vol, ii, pp. 1 3 5 ff . Philosophy and mystery religion failed to liberate 
Tatian from demonic enslavement to many lords and a myriad of tyrants, similarly 
Rabbula, but both were manumitted on conversion to Christianity (ibid., vol. i, 
pp. 3 2f ; Overbeck, Opera Selecta, p. 163). Apart from the usual miracles, Aaron 
of Sarug was particularly noted for his continued fight against a demon which 
persisted in following him from place to place (F. Nau (ed. and tr.), Leslegendes 
syriaques d 'Aaron de Saroug, in Patrologia Orientalis, vol. v, pp. 697ff). Note also 
the reassuringly recognisable character of the demons who tempt St Anthony with 
Evagrian passions and Mar Kardag with Sasanid power; Rabbula's snakes and 
reptiles, by contrast, would have appealed to a Hieronymus Bosch. 

147. A. Voobus, History of Asceticism, vol. i, pp. 97ff ; id., "The Institution of the 
Benai Qeiama and Benat Qeiama in the Ancient Syrian Church', Church History 
1961, p. 21. 

148. Ibid., p. 19. 

149. The Suryane of Nestorian Iraq quite frequently speak of themselves and 
their language as Aramean. 

150. Cf. the double cultural alienation illustrated in the account of the Edessene 
celebration of the Greek spring festival: the Edessenes deride their ancestors for 
their ignorance of Greek sophistication, and the clergy upbraid the Edessenes for 
their attachment to Greek paganism (Joshua the Srylite, Chronicle, ed. and tr. W: 


Notes to pp. 6}— 6 j 
Wright, Cambridge 1882, pp. i){ — 2of). 

151. Cf. T. Noldeke, 'Die Namen dcr aramaischen Nation und Sprache', Zeit- 
scbrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 187 1, p. 116. 

152. B. Dodge(tr.), The Fibrist of al-Nadtm, New York 1970.vol.ii, p. 763; 
cf. Ibn Wahshiyya's hope of a Chaldean restoration (Chwolson, Uberreste, p. 49). 

153. T. Noldeke, 'Assyrios, Syrios, Syros', Hermes 1871. 

1 j 4. The form appears in the chronicle of Jacob of Edessa (Chronica Minora, 
pp. 281 = 211). 

155. Instead of founding a Syrian nation, Alexander prophecies the end of the 
world (Jacob of Sarug, 'Discourse on Alexander, the believing king', in E. A. W. 
Budge, The History of Alexander the Great, Cambridge 1889, pp. i92ff). 

1 56. Theodoretus, Therapeutique, ii : 1 14, quoting Numenius. 

157. Cf. F. E. Cranz, 'Kingdom and Polity in Eusebius of Caesarea', The Har- 
vard Theological Review 1952, p. 52. 

158. Ibn Wahshiyya quoted in T. Fahd, 'L Agriculture Nabateenne : son apport 
a l'histoire economique de la Mesopotamie avant l'lslam', unpublished paper pre- 
sented to the Conference on the Social and Economic History of the Middle East 
held at Princeton, June 1974, p. 18. 

159. Contrast the role of the Twelve Tables in defining the Roman nation with 
that of die 'Laws of Constantine and Theodosius' in obliterating Syria. 

160. J. Perret, Les origines de la legende troyenne de Rome, Paris 1942. 

161. As did Theophilus of Edessa for Mahdi (Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen 
Literatur, p. 341). 

162. The Greeks don't know everything, witness the Indians, and the Baby- 
lonians invented astronomy; now the Syrians are Babylonians ... (P. Nau, 'La 
cosmographie au VII e siecle chez les syriens', Revue de I'Orient chretien 1910, pp. 
249f); whence Severus' treatise on the astrolable. 

163. Tatian speaks of himself as an Assyrian (Oratio, col. 888) who adopted the 
barbarian doctrine of Christ and rejected Greek learning (col. 868). He no doubt 
came- from Syria, not Adiabene, and this for a number of reasons. In the first place, 
Syrians often appear as Assyrians in contemporary Graeco-Roman writings (ct. 
the examples listed by Noldeke, 'Assyrios, Syrios, Syros', pp. 462E), and there 
is no lack of authors who conversely describe Tatian as Syrian (cf. Voobus, History 
of Asceticism, vol. i, p. 32n). In the second place, 'Assyrian' was commonly 
abusive, cf. Elagabalus' nickname; and this agrees with Taoan's defiant use of the 
abusive 'barbarian'. In the third place, it is hard to see how Adiabene, which had 
only briefly been occupied by Rome and had at this stage no solid Hellenistic cul- 
ture, could have produced a man of such solid Greek education as Tatian, who 
made a living of it from Syria to Rome. 

164. Which would go some way to explain Theodoretus' concern to attack the 
Hellenes at this rather belated stage. 

165. 'The philosophers and the orators have fallen into oblivion, the masses 


Notes to pp. 6j~ 66 

don't even know the names of the emperors and the generals, but everyone knows 
the names of the martyrs better than those of their most intimate friends' (Theo- 
doretus, Tberapeutique, viii 167). 

1 66. Cf. Theodoretus' pathetic attempt to have the civilised barbarians cash in 
oa the Jewish discovery of truth: the Hebrews, the Phoenicians, the Egyptians and 
fhe Babylonians had all found truth before the Greeks, the Phoenicians because 
they were neighbours of the Hebrews, the Egyptians because of the Hebrew bond- 
age there, the Babylonians because of the Hebrew exile there (Tberapeutique, i: 
-t iff). The Syrians were too close to the Judaic scene to claim Israelite descent in 
the manner of the Ethiopians, or to make themselves out to be the lost tribes of 
Israel in the manner of the probably indigenous Jews of Adiabene (Marquart, 
Stittfyiff, p. 288), or even to present the Jews as an Aramean sub-tribe in order 
•'.) claim Jesus as a Syrian (for a stray reference to Jesus as a Syrian by Dionysius 
Bar Salibi, see his 'Treatise against the Melchites', ed. and tr. Mingana in his 
\\' aodbrooke Studies, vol. i, Cambridge 1927, pp. 88 = 57). 

167. Theodoretus, Tberapeutique, v : 5 5 . 

1 68. Ibid., 

169. Ibid., 1:19 — 22. 

1 73. Thus Theodoretus. His catalogue of barbarian inventions is more or less" 
identical with Tatian's, but whereas Tatian concluded that Greek culture was not 
worth having, Theodoretus' conclusion is that one might as well have it; compare 
their treatments of Plato, who is rejected with short shrift by Tatian, but is an 
Attic-speaking Moses to Theodoretus. 

7. 7 1 . Thus already Meleager of Gadara in the second century B.C. : 'If I ama 
Syrian, what wonder? Stranger, we dwell in one country, the world; one Chaos 
gave birth to all mortals'; but though genealogy is irrelevant and all men are 
of Chaos, he still wanted Homer to be a Syrian and the Achaeans a Syrian tribe 
(M. Hadas, Hellenistic Culture: Fusion and Diffusion, New York 1959, pp. 83, 

172. Voobus, History of Asceticism, vol. ii, pp. 19—31 (Syria), 3 2f (North 


173. Brown, 'Christianity and Local Culture in Late Roman Africa', pp. 88f. 

1 74. The founder of Syrian asceticism was Tatian, condemned in the west and 
revered in the east, who derived his ideas from the Old Testament naziriteship 
(Voobus, History of Asceticism, vol. i, .pp. 35ft"); the perfect nazirite abstains 
from all food except lentils, leaves of trees, bread, water and salt, and spends his 
life in solitary prayer and endless tears (John of Ephesus, Lives of the Eastern 
Saints, ed. and tr. E. W. Brooks, in Patrologia Orientalis, vols, xvii—xix, part 
one, pp. 36—40). Na%ira, nar^rutba are common terms for ascetic, asceticism in 

-5. "Voobus, 'The Institution of the Benai Qeiama', p. 19. 

176". Ibid., pp. 2 3ff; but note that the 'Sons of the Covenant' are still con- 
ceived as the core of the church in the biography of the fifth-century Rabbula 


Notes to pp. 66-67 

(G. G. Blum, Rabbula von Edessa : der Christ, der Bischof, der Theologe ( = CSCO, 
Subsidia, vol. xxriv), Louvain 1969, pp. 56f); contrast the development in 
Assyria, where by 48 5 the 'Sons of the Covenant' had been permitted to marry and 
eat meat, having acquired the position of lay clerics between laymen and cenobites 
(Rucker, 'Eioe Anweisung fur geistliche Ubungen nestorianischer Moncbe des 7. 
Jahrhunderts', p. 194); cf. also Isho'dad's unsympathetic treatment of the nazirite- 
ship (van den Eynde, Commentaire, II. Exode-Deuteronomie, pp. 89 = 102). 

177. Voobus, History of Asceticism, vol. ii, pp. 12 jff. 

178. For the rise of cenobitism, see Voobus, History of Asceticism, vol. ii, pp. 
61—123; f° r t ' le solitary ideal, ibid., pp. 304—6. Note also Isaac of Antioch's 
horror at the new developments: Israel in the desert did not sow, reap or plant 
trees (ibid., p. 148). 

179. Contrast Assyria, where — allowing for some overlap between Syrian and 
Assyrian Mesopotamia — the fact that Christian ascetics have a knack for expelling 
demons carries no implication that all Christians should pursue medical careers. 

180. Cf. Voobus, History of Asceticism, vol. ii, pp. 292—315. 

181. Ibid., pp. 294— 300. 

182. Noldeke has a good briefing for such a descent into hell in his Sketches from 
Eastern History, London and Edinburgh 1892, chapter 7. Cf. also the linking 
of cosmopolitanism and renunciation in Cynicism: if one is a citizen of nowhere, 
it is a matter of taste whether one chooses to inhabit a Syrian pillar or an Athenian 

183. A. Voobus, Syriac and Arabic Documents Regarding Legislation Relative 
to Syrian Asceticism, Stockholm 7, p. 28;no. 20, p. 3i;nos. 2f,p.95; 
id., History of Asceticism, vol. i, p. 276; cf. ibid., vol. ii, pp. 300, 323, 326, for 
other evidence of rivalry. 

1 84. W. Hage, Die syrisch-jacobitische Kirche in friihislamischerZeit, Wiesbaden 
1966, pp. 12, 34. 

185. Cf. the emperor who thinks Philoxenus worthy of the episcopate on the 
grounds that he is a great exegete, sage and philosopher and a great worker 
of miracles (Eh of Qartamin, Memra sur S. Mar Philoxene de Mabbog, ed. and tr. 
A. de Halleux (= CSCO, Scriptores Syri, vols, cf), Louvain 1963, lines 137— 
46 = p. 6); and the posthumous consecration of Ephraim by his biographer (Bed- 
jan, Acta Martyrum, vol. iii, p. 648). Both the rivalry and its resolution may be 
compared to that which obtains between acquired and ascribed baraka in Muslim 
Morocco (cf. the saint al-Yusi who secures official consecration from the 'Alid 
sultan, C. Geertz, Islam Observed, Chicago I97i,pp. 34Q; but whereas Islam gave 
the Moroccans Arab genealogy to play the ascriptive game with, Christianity gave 
the Syrians only the Hellenised church. 

1 86. R. Devreesse, Le Patriarchal d'Antioche depuis la paix de I'Eglisejusqu'a la 
conquete arabe, Paris 1945, pp. 45ff. 

187. Hage, Die syrisch-jacobitische Kirche, p. 36. 

188. Hardy, Christian Egypt, pp. 33, 140; cf. also the barbarian rather than 


Notes to pp. 67-68 

specifically Syrian orientation of the travels of Jacob Baradaeus (Frend, 
Monophysite Movement, p. 287). 

1 89. The latter in the shape of the Christian Arabs whose king Harith b. Jabala 
was to be instrumental in the restoration, not of Nestorianism, but of Monophysit- 
ism (cf. ibid., pp. 284^ 326). 

190. Ibid., pp. i6ff. 

191. Ibid., pp. 283ff. 

192. Alexander, The Orade of Baalbek, lines 205ff = p. 29. 

193. Kaegi has squeezed the sources for what there is of Syrian interest in the 
fate of the Roman Empire (W. E. Kaegi, By%antium and the Decline of Rome, 
Princeton 1968, pp. I46ff); squeezing them for anti-imperial sentiments would 
presumably yield a similarly meagre harvest. 

194. Urbanus was assessor to the Comes Orientis in 3 591*; his son distributed 
his inheritance among the poor to become a monk (Seeck, Briefe desLibanius, s.n.). 

195. They were landowners in Antioch, Syrians by descent, Christians by faith, 
and Greeks by culture and conciliar membership; on their death Theodoretus dis- 
tributed his inheritance among the poor to become a monk (see Canivet's introduc- 
tion to Theodoretus, Therapeutique, vol. i, pp. ioff). 

196. Tatian, Oratio, col. 829. 

1 97. Thus Sarjun b. Mansur al-Rumi, whom the Arabs inherited, was typically a 

198. Thus Rabbula, a wealthy man in provincial office (Overbeck, Opera Selecta, 
p. 166); Thomas of Amida, a descendant of a patrician, who left his estates and 
riches to live in a pit (John of Ephesus, Lives of the Eastern Saints, part one, p. 191); 
Harfat of Hanzit, of a great and wealthy family, who left his possessions to his 
brother to withdraw into a monastery — the brother who kept this wealth being 
typically a deceitful man who meddled in the affairs of the praetoriani in the gover- 
nor's service (ibid., pp. 1 58ft); the blessed Caesaria, a patrician of great royal 
race who subjected herself to humiliation and reduced herself to lowly station 
(ibid., part three, pp. 185ft); ^ many others. 

199. Thanks to their prolonged independence, the Edessenes contrived to save 
their past by having Abgar Ukkama convert to Christianity (see Segal, Edessa, 
pp. 62ft, for the legend and its Vorlage in Adiabene). Relations between the 
Edessenes and their magnates accordingly display a certain warmth, as on the 
occasion of the Robber Council of Ephesus against which the city was united 
(Voobus, School ofNisibis, p. 29), or during the famine of 5 oof when governors, 
magnates and soldiers were united in their relief work (Joshua the Stylite, 
Chronicle, pp. 38 = 32). For the Rospaye, Tel-Mahraye and other Edessene 
Apions who combined wealth, power and a Monophysite creed, see Segal, Edessa, 
pp. 1 26, 146 ; here as elsewhere, of course, nobles can be trusted to misbehave if 
left outside episcopal control (Joshua the Stylite, Chronicle, pp. 8 1 , 84f = 68, 7 1 ; 
Overbeck, Opera Selecta, pp. 182, 187). 

200. Note the contrast between the ways in which the Egyptian merchant and 


Notes to pp. 68-6$ 

Rabbula go about their quests for spiritual pearls (Palladius, Paradise, vol. i, pp. 
36if; Overbeds, Opera Selecta, pp. 16 jf). 

201. As said of Peter and Photius, John of Ephesus, Lives of the Eastern Saints, 
part three, p. 197. 

202. As did Theophilus and Mary, only children of wealthy Antiochene 
families, who left the world to live a holy life disguised as disreputable 
mimes (ibid., pp. 164—79 = Noldeke, Sketches front Eastern History, pp. 2 3 3 ff ). 

203. The school of Nisibis was after all an import from Edessa. 

204. Voobus, History of Asceticism, vol. ii, pp. 388ff. 

205. For an impressive sample of flotsam from the Greek Jdhiliyya, see S . Brock 
(ed. and tr.), The Syriac Version of the Pseudo-Nonnos Mythological Scholia, Cam- 
bridge 1 97 1. 

206. Cf. F. Nau, 'L'arameen chretien (syriaque). Les traductions faites du 
grec en syriaque du VIP siecle', Revue de I'bistoire des religions 1 929, pp. 2 56ff. 

207. A. H. M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 284—602, Oxford 1964, vol. 
ii, p. 1007; cf. Rabbula, who set up schools to teach pagan children of princes and 
the wealthy the truth in Syriac (E. de Stoop (ed. and tr.), Vie d' Alexandre 
I'Acemete, in Patrologia Orientalis, vol. vi, pp. 67 3f ). 

208. Cf. E. Beck (ed. and tr.), Des heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Hymnen defide 
(= CSCO, Scriptores Syri, vols.lxxiiif),Louvaini955,Hymnus2:24:'happyis 
he who has not tasted the poisonous wisdom of the Greeks'. 

299. Ephraem's eloquence cured the Edessenes of their captivation with the 
'Greek wisdom' of Harmonius, the son of Bardesanes 'the Aramean' (Bedjan, 
Acta Martyrum, vol. iii, pp. 6 5 2f ; Ephraem, Prose Refutations, ed. C. W. Mitchell, 
London, 1919— 21, vol. ii, pp. 8, 225). Ephraem likewise explained Arianism as 
the result of the impermissable attempt of the 'Greek spirit' to penetrate the 
nature of God (E. Beck, Ephraem's Reden 'uber den Glauben (= Studia Ansei- 
miana, fasc. xxxiii), Rome 1953, pp. 11 iff; id., Die Theologie des Hi. 
Ephraem, pp. 62ff). 

2 1 o. Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, ed. and tr. J. B. Abbeloos and 
T. J. Lamy, Louvain 1872— 7, vol. i, cols. 291 = 292. As a result Jacob left the 
monastery. Contrast the failure of Isho'yahb to set up a school in the monastery 
of Beth 'Awe because the monks wanted peace and quiet, as a result of which the 
school was set up elsewhere (Fiey, 'Isoyaw le Grand', Orientalia Christiana 
Periodica 1969, p. 323). 

211. On the two in general, see Blum, Rabbula von Edessa, and A. de Halleux, 
Philoxene de Mabbog: sa vie, ses ecrits, sa theologie, Louvain 1963. 

212. Philoxenus, Discourses, ed. and tr. E. A. W. Budge, London 1894, pp. 
260 - 250. 

213. Ibid., pp. *44& = 2 }4ff- 

214. Ibid., pp. 2 5 6ff, 3o8f = 246ff, 295. 

215. Ibid., pp. j 2 =49. 


Notes to pp. 69— j j 

216. Ibid., pp. 36 = 33. 

iiy. Ibid.,<pp. 288ff = 275ff;cf. also his letter to the monks who are engaged 
in cultivating the virtues leading to perfection, a circumstance which justifies his 
daring in speaking to them of the 'inaccessible wisdom' (Lettreauxmoinesde Senoun, 
ed. and tr. A. deHalleux(= CSCO, Scriptores Syri, vols, xcviiif ), Louvain 1963, 
pp. 71 =58). 

2 1 8 . Blum, Rabbula von Edessa, pp. 1 3 3ff. 

219. Overbeck, Opera Selecta, p. 239. 

220. Ibid., p. 241. 

221. Lot. cit. 

222. A point very forcefully stated in the account of his conversion (Over- 
beck, Optra Selecta, pp. 162—4); where Theodoretus uses Socrates to establish 
that human reason demonstrates our ignorance (Tberapeutiaue, i:83f), Rabbula's 
mentors invoke his persecution by demons to make die same point; and where 
Awida refuses to accept the principle of credo ut intelligam (Bardesanes, Liber legum 
regionum, col. 541), Rabbula accepts that of credo ut liberer. 

223. Philoxenus, Discourses, pp. 309 = 296. 

224. C. Moss, 'Isaac of Antioch. Homily on the Royal City', Zeitscbrift fur 
Semithtik 1929 and i932,pp. 30jf = 7of; cf. also I. Hausherr, 'Les grands cou- 
rants de la spiritualite orientale', Orientalia Christiana Periodica 193 5, pp. 119— 
2 1 . Nestorian Iraq, which in so many respects began as a province of Syria, has 
similar echoes, cf. the division of Narsai's loyalties between • Theodore of. 
Mopsuestia and Ephraem's 'inscrutable God' (T. Jansma, 'Narsai and Ephraem. 
Some Observations on Narsai's Homilies on Creation and Ephraem's Hymns on 
Faith*, Parole de I'Orient 1970); but the inscrutabihty with which the 
Nestorian God was left soon became pretty minimal. 

225. Overbeck, Opera Selecta, p. 239. 


1. Hagarism is a faith, but Vandalism is merely a behavioural syndrome. 

2. "This heavenly city, then, while it sojourns on earth, calls citizens out of all 
nations . . . not scrupling about diversities in the manners, laws and institutions 
whereby earthly peace is secured and maintained ... It therefore is so far from 
rescinding and abolishing these diversities, that it even preserves and adopts 
them, so long as no hindrance to the worship of the one supreme and true God is 
thus introduced' (Augustine, City of God, xix:i7 as cited in Avis, 'Moses and the 
Magistrate: a Study in the Rise of Protestant Legalism', p. 1 50). For an equally 
incisive presentation of the point in the more hostile perspective of a Muslim 
work, see Stern, ' 'Abd Al-Jabbar's Account of how Christ's Religion was Falsified 
by the Adoption of Roman Customs'. 

3. See J. M. Wallace-Hadrill, 'Gothia and Romania', in his The Long-Haired 
Kings and other studies in Franleish history, London 1962, p. 25. 


Notes to pp. 7J—77 

4. E. A. Thompson, The Visigoths in the Time ofUlfila, Oxford 1966. 

5. Ibid., p. xviii. 

6. E. A. Thompson, The Goths in Spain, Oxford 1969, pp. 4on, 84. 

7. For the lack of any wish to make converts among the native population of 
Visigothic Spain, and the complementary attempt of Leovigild to convert the 
Germanic Sueves of Galicia, see ibid., pp. io6f; compare the behaviour of the 
Saracen conquerors on Mt Sinai (see above, p. 120). 

8. Ibid., p. 57. 

9. Contrast the polyglot history of the Christian (or Buddhist) scriptures with 
the intransigent untranslatability of the Koran. 

10. In the Javanese case it is indicative of the terms of trade that those who 
take the demands of their religion seriously are construed by their fellow-country- 
men as foreigners (C. Geertz, The Religion of Java, Glencoe, 111. i960, p. 123); 
in the West African case something of the relationship between Islam and the 
pagan polities of the area is caught in the designation of the Muslims as 'the wives 
of the chief (N. Levtzion, Muslims and Chiefs in West Africa, Oxford 1968, 
pp. 58, 1 j 2). 

1 1. Wensinck, Concordance, s.v. hadama. 

12. M. Mole, 'Les Kubrawiya entre sunnisme et shiisme aux huitieme et 
neuvicme siecles de l'Hegire', Revue des etudes islamiques 1961, pp. 78—91; D. 
Ayalon, 'The great Yasa of Chingiz Khan. A reexamination (B)', Studia Islamica 
1971, pp. 177-80; Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , art. 'Cingizids' (the descendants of 
the pagan Chingiz Khan here constitute an ahl al-bayt whose function in generating 
political legitimacy is comparable to that of the family of the Prophet). 

13. Cf. the perceptive lament of Ziya Gokalp (N. Berkes (tr.), Turkish 
Nationalism and Western Civilisation: Selected Essays of Ziya Gokalp, London 
1959, p. 227). 

14. For all their Jahili past (cf. the passage from Diodorus Siculus cited above, 
p. 157, n. 38), the Nabateans had been quick enough to proclaim their Philhellen- 
ism on conquering Damascus (Schiirer, The History of the Jewish People, p. 578). 

1 5. The aristocratic Hungarian 'nation' prior to the advent of modern nation- 
alism is in its own self-consciousness quite simply constituted by descent from 
the pagan and barbarian Magyar invaders; the obverse to this very powerful 
sense of ethnicity being the complete submission of the Hungarians to European 
culture. The orthodox Slavs are politically less impressive, but contrived a certain 
sub-cultural autonomy by combining an early use of the vernacular as a literary 
language with an obscurantist use of Hesychasm against the Hellenic component 
of their Byzantine tradition. And if the descendants of the Prophet are a poor 
political substitute for the Hungarian aristocracy, Hesychasm is a very inferior 
cultural substitute for Hanbalism. 

1 6. One rather curious exception is worth noting here : the keys of the Doctrina 
are, so to speak, Christianised rather than Hagarised (see above, p. 4). Compare the 


Notes to pp. 77—80 

seventh-century 'Treatise on the Shortest Path that brings us near to God' of Joseph 
Hazzaya, ed. and tr. Mingana, in his Woodbroohf Studies, vol. vii, f. 8 7b =; p. 1 8 1 . 

1 7. Thus the sublimation of Abrahamic genealogy into metaphor by the Jewish 
Hellenist Paul of Tarsus marks the beginning of Christianity as we know it 
(Gal. 4:2 iff); whereas the similar attempt by the Egyptian Hellenist Taha 
Husayn nineteen centuries later threatened the end of Islam as we know it (N. 
Safran, Egypt in Search of Political Community, Cambridge Mass. 1961, p. 1 5.5). 

18. Note that it is precisely these features that are fundamental to the Judaco- 
Christian refusal to follow Pauline Christianity in its acceptance of Hellenism. For 
the Jewish bion amikton, see E. R. Goodenough, Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman 
Period vol. i, New York 1953, p. 37. 

1 9. For the continuing meaning of the desert for Judaism, see above, p. 8 ; and cf. 
the neo-tribalism of the Dead Sea sectarians (Y. Yadin (ed. and tr.), The Scroll 
of the War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness, Oxford 1962, 
especially p. 38). 

20. P. Brown, Augustine of Hippo: a biography, London 1967, pp. 42 5f. The 
whole story of the moulding of religion to philosophical contours in the life of one 
of the greatest Christian saints is one which could hardly be transposed into 
Islamic terms outside Isma'ilism (one reason why the Isma'IHs recruited some 
remarkable intellectual talent). It is hard to imagine the young Augustine, who 
winced at the painful iiteralness of the word of the Hebraic God until delivered 
by the elevated Hellenising allegories of Ambrose, could have taken gracefully to a 
science of rhetoric founded on die axiomatic stylistic perfection of the Koran, or to 
a 'theology' which accepted the truths of this scripture bila kflyf 

21. G. Makdisi, 'Ash'ari and the Ash'arites in Islamic religious History', Studia 
Islamica 1963, p. 31. 

22. The Tanguts, whose conquest was restricted to an oudying part of China, 
produced a national culture by mimicking the civilisation of the Chinese (E. I. 
Kychanov, Ocherk istorii tangutskfigo gosudarstva, Moscow 1968, pp. 2 59ft) ; the 
Manchus maintained a national identity by mimicking the barbarism of the 
Mongols (D. M. Farquhar, "The Origins of the Manchus' Mongolian policy', in 
J. K. Fairbank (ed.), The Chinese World Order, Cambridge Mass. 1968). But in 
both cases the substantive capitulation to the shape of Chinese culture is complete. 
(Contrast the sense which Islam might have made of the hijra into the desert with 
which the history of the independent Tangut state begins, Kychanov, Ocherk, 
pp. 2J f.) 

2 3. Even missionary Christianity produced no literatures in Iberian or Berber; 
a Basque literature appeared only in the sixteenth century, and Berber literature 
such as it is has been the work of heretical Islam. 

24. It was not of course without predecessors in the area; but the hieratic 
Cuneiform culture of Akkad was too cumbrous, and the international use of a 
profane Aramaic too utilitarian, to generate anything very similar to Hellenism 
as an elite culture. 


Notes to pp. 81-84 

2 5 . But for the enthusiastic reception of Olympiodorus by the pagan Blemmyes 
in' the early fifth century, see W. B. Emery, Egypt in Nubia, London 1965, 
p. 236. 

26. Compare the imprudent European invention of Marxism, which has enabled 
the. non- European victims of European civilisation to reject the world they have 
had thrust upon them in terms of its own truths. Marxism, like monotheism, is a 
message dogmatic enough to be extricated from its cultural medium and re- 
packaged in simplistic form for the use of those to whom the original medium 
remains deeply alien. 

27. When Confucius was thinking of going to live among the nine wild tribes 
of the east, he was met with the objection : 'They are rude ; how can you do such a 
thing?' To which the Master replied: 'If a superior man dwelt among them, 
what rudeness would there be?' (H. Miyakawa, 'The Confucianization of South 
China', in A. F. Wright (ed.), The Confucian Persuasion, Stanford, Col. i960, 
p. 24). Rudeness is thus a tribal vice which Confucian virtue would have elimin- 
ated; Confucianism possessed no resources whatever for construing the vice 
itself as a virtue.' So Confucius stayed at home and south China was Confucianised, 
whereas Muhammad dwelt among the wild tribes of the south and the Middle 
East was Islamicised. 

28. Cf. Joshua 2 : iff. 


1. Bar Penkaye's catalogue of Christian sins significandy makes no mention of 
conversions (Mingana, Sources syriaques, chapter xv). Similarly the Sententiae of 
Henan-Isho', though contemporary with Jacob of Edessa (cf. below, p. 212, 
n. 80), include decisions on questions arising from the poll tax but not on conversions 
(in Sachau, Syrische Kechtsb'ucher, vol. ii). 

2. Note how already the ninth-century Thomas of Marga thinks of dihqans as 
miserable peasants who can only turn to their bishop for redress against an extor- 
tionate tax-collector (The Book of Governors, pp. 152 = 31 if). 

3. The eleventh-century Nestorian 'Abdallah b. al-Tayyib had to defend 
science against the charge that it was not only unnecessary, Christianity being 
based on a miracle, but even an obstacle in the approach to God, an object of shame 
the acquisition of which was a fault (S. Khalil-Kussaim, 'Necessite de la science, 
Texte d"Abdallah Ibn at-Tayyib (m. 1043)', Parole de I'Orient 1972, pp. 
2 49 ff). 

4. They certainly did not lack willingness, and that as early as the seventh 
century (see above, p. 11). The idea that the Arab conquests were a punishment for 
Christian sins does of course continue (see Muir, The Apology ofAl Kindy, p. 1 3, 
and Solomon of Basra, The Book of the Bee, pp. i4of = 124); but by the 
thirteenth century we also find Christians automatically pronouncing the blessing 
after the names of Muhammad, 'All and 'Umar [II] (Scher, Histoire nestorienne. 


Notes to pp. 84-8} 

pp. 6oo, 618; H. Gismondi (ed. and tr.), Maris Amri et Slibae De Patriarchis 
Nestorianorum, Rome 1899, pp. 62, 6 j). 

5 With the exception of the dihqans listed by Baladhurl [Futuh, p. 265), 
some of whom were no doubt Christians; note their failure to create aristocratic 
lineages despite their early conversion. For the decline of the dihqans in general, cf. 

Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , art. 'Dihkan'. 

6. Tabari, Tarikh, II, p. 1 1 2 2 ; W. Ahlwardt (ed.), Anonyme arabische Chronik. 
{-- Baladhurl, Kitab ansdb al-ashraf, vol. xi), Greifswald 1883, pp. 336f; 
Muhammad b. Yazid al-Mubarrad, al-Kamil fi'l-lugha, ed. W. Wright, Leipzig 
1864—92, vol. i, p. 286. 

7. Muir, The Apology of Al Kindy, pp. 3 3f. 

8. Walzer, L'Eveil de la philosophic islamique, p. 20. 

9. Y. Marquet, 'Imamat, Resurrection et Hierarchie selon les Ikhwan as-Safa*, 
Revue des etudes islamiques 1962, pp. 137^ B. Lewis, The Origins of Isma'dism, 
Cambridge 1940, pp. 93ff. 

50. Baumstark, Geschicbte der syrischen Literatur, pp. 28of, where it is aptly 
compared to Nathan der Weise. 

:■ \ F. Gabrieli, 'La "Zandaqa" au l a siecle abbasside', in C. Cahen et al., 

L Elaboration de llslam, Paris 1961. 

iz. Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , art. 'Dahriyya'. 

13. Walzer, L'Eveil de la philosophie islamique, p. 19. 

14, Encydopaedia of Islam 2 , s.n. 
1 j . Encyclopaedia Judaica, s.n. 

1 6. Chwolson, Uberreste, p. 1 5 $n; A von Gutschmidt, 'Die nabataische Land- 
wirtschaft und ihre Geschwister', Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenl'andisch'en 
Gesellschaft 1861, pp. 9if. 

17. In the apt words of the seventeenth-century Veron: 'O Babylone confuse! 

6 qu'incertaine est la Religion pretendiie, en tous les points controversez' (R. H.. 
Popkin, The History of Scepticism from Erasmus to Descartes 2 , Assen 1964, p. 73). 

if?. It was a Christian who wrote Nathan der Weise in the European Age of 
Enlightenment, but the Jews who converted to Christianity in the name' of 
European reason. 

1 9. Yuhanna b. al-Bitriq presumably converted at the hands of Ma'mun (D. M. 
Dunlop, "The Translations of al-Bitriq and Yahya (Yuhanna) b. al-Bifriq', Journal 
of '.he Royal Asiatic Society 1959^. 142). Conversely, Christian philosophers were 
still important enough in the early eleventh century to come under the attack of 
Avicenna (S. Pines, 'La "Philosophie Orientale" d'Avicenne et sa polemique 
coatre les Baghdadiens', Archives d'histoire doctrinale et litteraire du Mqyen Age 
>9i 2 )- 

jo. D. Sourdel, Le Vhjrat 'abbaside de j4p a $$6, Damascus 1959^ pp. 


Notes to pp. S; -8 6 

520-6. 'All b. 'Isa was the grandson of a Christian convert from Dayr Qunna 
who founded a secretarial dynasty. 

21. The spate of Christian converts in the 'Abbisid administration began with 
Fadl b. Marwan, vizier in the years 833—6 (Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , s.n.); for 
'Isa b. Farrukbanshah, Ahmad b. Isra'il al-Anbari, Hasan b. Makhlad, Sa'id b. 
Makhlad and the rest, see Sourdel, Le Virqrat 'abbaside, pp. 291, 295, 313, 
3 1 6f etc. 'Abdun b. Makhlad, the brother of Sa'ld, remained a Christian, but his 
son probably converted (Fiey, Assyrie chretienne, vol. iii, pp. 117O; and the 
same drain is reflected in the decline of the Christian communities of Persia towards 
the tenth and eleventh centuries (id., 'L'Elam, la premiere des metropoles ec- 
clesiastiques syriennes orientales', Melto 1969 and Parole de I'Orient 1970; id., 
Mcdie chretienne', ibid.). 

2 2 . Whence presumably the fact that there were Epicureanising Jews, Chaldeans 
and Muslims, but only Stoicising Christians : unlike the others, a Christian ceased 
to be a Christian if he indulged in scepticism. 

23. As did Ibn Wahshiyya, with a most un-Chaldean lack of scientific detach- 

24. . Notably the Mandeans, who have perhaps gone furthest in the obliteration 
of the astrological element, and who have also renounced the Chaldean identity; 
cf. their history of immigration on the one hand (E. Yamauchi, Gnostic Ethics and 
Mandaean Origins, Cambridge, Mass. 1970, pp. 68ff), and their rejection of 
'soothsayers and Chaldeans' on the other (M. Lidzbarski (tr.), Gimg: Der 
Schat\oder das grosse Buck der Mandaer, Gottingen 192 j, pp. 37, 278, 299 etc.). 

25. A conjuncture the Mandeans (contrast the Christians) cannot make sense of, 
as is clear from the account given in the Ginya of the Arab Abdallah who owes 
his fortune to Mars/Nerig/Nergal and tells his followers that the servants of 
the planets have no power (ibid., pp. 2 3 3f ). If the Arab conquests can be astro- 
logically predicted (ibid., p. 412), there is no point in lamenting the departure of 
Anosh (ibid., p. 300) and the disappearance of the religion from the earth (ibid., 
p. 54) : one might as well lament the law of gravity. But if Mars is a collaborator 
of the evil' spirit, and the Arabs can be condemned to Sheol for their deeds (ibid., 
pp. 2 33f), there is no point in going on about the planets: one might as well 
become a Manichean. 

26. Ibid., pp. 30, 233. 

27. Chwolson, Die Ssabier, vol. i, pp. 546ff. 

28. Or eleventh-century, if his conversion took place in 1 01 2 (Encyclopaedia of 
Islam 1 , s.n.). 

29. Note also his observation that most people have adopted the religion of the 
kings since the Canaanite (i.e. Arab) invasions (Chwolson, Uberreste, p. 57). 

30. As did Ma Shi 'Allah, with striking onomastic disregard for his professional 

31. Thus $amad al-Yahudi, who converted at the hands of Ma'mun (Dodge, 


Notes to pp. 86-8j 

The Fibrist of al-Nadim, p. 652); cf. also the case of Ibn Malka {Encyclopaedia 
of Islam 2 , art. 'Abu'l-Barakat'). 

3 2 . Ibn Wahshiyya articulated his Chaldean Shu'ubism by a reversal of Biblical 
history: the Jews appear as rulers of Babylon already in Mandean sources 
(Yamauchi, Gnostic Ethics and Mandean Origins, p. 68), and the ghetto having 
come back in the shape of the Arab tribes, Ibn Wahshiyya proceeds to taunt the 
Arabs as Canaanite conquerors of Chaldea, and to present Abraham as a Canaanite 
immigrant to Kiitha Rabba (Chwolson, Uberreste, passim). 

33. B. Vernier, L'lraq d'aujourd'hui, Paris 1963, p. 5^2. 

34. Cf. above, p. 57. 

35. As a literary language primarily via philosophy, cf. G. Graf, Geschichte der 
christlichenarabischenLiteratur, Rome 1944—53^01. ii, pp. 109—20. 

36. At more or less the same time as in Syria, though it seems to have been 
somewhat more resistant (cf. Brockelmann's remarks in C. Brockelmann et al., 
Geschichte der christlichen Litteraturen des Orients, Leipzig 1909, p. 55). 

37. F. Rosenthal, Die Aramaistische Forschmg sett Th. NSUekf's Veroffentli- 
chungen, Leyden 1939, pp. 2 5 5 ff - 

38. J. Joseph, The Nestorians and their Muslim N«#W>o»«, Princeton i96i,pp. 
5ff. It was of course an advantage that the Chaldeans and Assyrians, unlike the 
Greeks, had no modern incarnation ; but if the Melkites preferred modern Arabs 
to modern Greeks, the Nestorians would presumably have preferred modern 

39. Cf. the poem cited ibid., p. 152, and in general pp. 1 5 iff. 

40. Or in so far as they did not it was extremely faint : whether descended from 
the Gurumu of cuneiform sources or the Garamaioi of Ptolemy, the inhabitants of 
Bet Garma had not managed to insulate Assyria ethnically from the rest of the 
Fertile Crescent, and though Muslim sources distinguish between Nabateans and 
Jaramiqa, they are perfectly aware that the Jaramiqa are Suryaniyyun (Fiey, 
Assyrie chretienne, vol. iii, pp. I4ff). 

41. What Shu'ubism there is is Christian, and primarily aimed at refuting the 
priority of Hebrew without having it go to the pagans : Syriac, not Hebrew, was 
the first language (Budge, The Book, of the Cave of Treasures, p. 132); Abraham 
being a native of Kashkar in Babylonia, he spoke the native language of the 
Babylonians, who are the Arameans, who are the Syrians, and Hebrew is a 
fusion of Syriac and Canaanite (van den Eynde, Commentaire, I. Genese, pp. 
1 3 jf = 147, cf. pp. 1 7 5f = 1 89). There is a late apology for Syriac specifically 
directed against the Arabs by the thirteenth-century 'Abd-Isho' : the Arabs despise 
other languages and in particular Syriac, but Syriac was the first language 
and Adam spoke it with God (P. P. Zingerle, 'Uber das syrische Buch des 
Paradieses von Ebedjesu, Metropolit von Nisibis', Zeitschrift der Deutschen 
Morgenl'dndischen Gesellschaft 1875, pp. 497f). In Islam, however, it is Ibn al- 
Nadim who notes this point from his knowledge of Christian books, not a Syrian 


Notes to pp. 87-88 

Shu'ubi (Dodge, The Fihrist of al-Nadtm, p. 22). Likewise the Syrian Shu'ubis 
could only disappear into the general chorus that all previous prophets had been 
non-Arabs, and it took doctrinally motivated intellectuals to assign them a special 
merit in connection with their not having had a prophet of their own (see below, 
p. 224, n. 15). 

42. Not, that is, until the Assyrians used the non-Arab genealogy of the 
Kurds and the heresy of the Yazidis to claim both as 'Islamic Assyrians' (Joseph, 
The Assyrians and their Muslim Neighbours, p. 1 54). 

43. Fiey, Assyrie chretienne, vol. iii, p. 190. 

44. As opposed to the Assyria of the classical sources whence the Muslims 
ultimately derived their scholarly knowledge of the Assyrian past. 

45. Satirun b. Usaytirun, the Jwmaqi, king of the Suryaniyyun (Yaqut b. 
'Abdallah, Mu'jam al-buldan, ed. F. Wiistenfeld, Leipzig 1866—73, v °l- "< 
p. 284; Mas'udi in Chwolson, Die Ssabier, vol. ii, p. 693). 

46. Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , art. 'al-Hadr'. 'Satirun' is identified as a Syriac 
word by Ibn Khalliqin in Chwolson, Die Ssabier, vol. ii, p. 695. 

47. Dayzan b. Mu'awiya of Qudi'a (Yaqut, Mu'jam, vol. ii, p. 282). 

48. 'All b. Muhammad ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil fi'l-ta'rikb, ed. C. J. Tornberg, 
Leyden 1867—76^01. i,p. 209;cf. Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopadie,3xx.. 'Hatra'. 

49. Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , art. 'al-IJadr*. 

50. Yaqut, Mu'jam, vol. ii, p. 284. 

5 1 . Mundhir b. Ma' al-sama' was descended from Lakhm according to the 
Yemenis, but according to our 'ulama he was descended from Satirun b. al- 
Usaytirun, king of Hadr, a Jarmaqanl from Mosul (A. A. Bevan (ed.), The 
Naka'id of Jarir and al-Fara%dakj Leyden 1905—12, p. 885); Nu'man b. ai- 
Mundhir was of Lakhm according to the Yemenis, but according to the 'ulama 
of Iraq he was a descendant of Satirun b. al- Usaytirun, king cf the Suryamyyun 
(ibid., pp. 298f; similarly Mas'udi in Chwolson, Die Ssabier, vol. ii, p. 693). 

52. W. Caskel, Gamharat an-Nasab: Das genealogische Werk. des Hisam b. 
Muhammad al-Kalbi, Leyden 1 966, vol. ii, p. 84 : the ancestor of the kings of 
Hira was Hayqar, a foreigner. 

53. F. C. Conybeare et al. (ed. and tr.), The Story of Ahikar 2 , Cambridge 1 9 1 3 , 
pp. lxxivff; Ahiqar appears as Hayqar in the Christian Arabic text. Note also 
the inclusion of the Nimrodids in the general Shu'ubi claim that all previous kings 
had been non-Arabs (Ahmad b. Muhammad ibn 'Abd Rabbih, Kitab al-'iqd ai- 
farid, ed. A. Amin et al., Cairo 1940—65, vol. iii, p. 404). 

54. Notably in the case of Ibn Wahshiyya, who asserts that the ancient 
Syriac script was the first divine alphabet, taught by God to Adam (see his 
Ancient Alphabets and Hieroglyphic Characters, cd. and tr. J. Hammer, London 
1806, pp. 116 = 42); cf. also the notion of the pure language of the 
Babylonians before the confusion (Chwolson, Uberreste, p. 11). Hence the 
Abu 'Isa al-Maghribl who believed that the Syrians were the oldest people 


Notes to pp. 88-8$ 

in the world and that Adam spoke Syriac also held that their religion was 
Sabiaa (Chwolson, Die Ssabier, vol. ii, p. 499). 

5 5. Yaqut, Mu'jam, vol. iii, p. 566. 

16. Ibn Wahshiyya gothis Babylonian Teucros from the Persians as Tankalusha 
(C. Nallino, 'Tracce di opere greche giunte agli Arabi per trafile Pehlevica', in 
A Volume of Oriental Studies 'Presented to E. G. Browne, Cambridge 1922), and he 
similarly got his Berossus from the Greeks in the form of Arbiasios (Ibn Wahshiy- 
ya, Ancient Alphabets, pp. 61 = 11). But 'Aqar Quf and Borsippa may re- 
present the survival of an indigenous tradition : 'Aqar Quf has since been exca- - 
vared to reveal Dur Kurigalzu, the city of Kurigalzu II (1345—24 B.C.); and 
Borsippa is of course a well-known Babylonian city (for these readings of qvq' 
and brs 'p-y ', see T. Noldeke, 'Noch Einiges iiber die "nabataische Landwirtschaft" ', 
Zeitschrift tier Deutscben Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 1875, p. 44911). 

57. See particularly Dodge, The Fihrist of al-Nadtm, pp. 572ff (where the 
tradition has been through a Persian filter) and Mas'iidl, Kitab muruj al-dhahab, 
vol ii, pp. 9 5—104 (where it has been through a Greek one). 

58. For the 'Kurds' who claim possession of the books of Adam, Safrith/ 
Paghrith, Quthanii, al-Dawanay (i.e. Adonay) and other Babylonian prophets 
and sages, see Ibn Wahshiyya, Ancient Alphabets, pp. 13 iff = y 2ff. 

59. The Greeks think themselves better than the Babylonians; but though 
there are excellent men among them, on the whole they are like cattle (Chwolson, 

Uberreste, p. 91). 

60. The Jaramiqa do not speak Babylonian, but a language which they say 
Mercury (i.e. Nabu) taught them a thousand years ago (ibid., p. 104); they are' 
not sons of Adam, and will never cease to hate the Babylonians (ibid., p. 44). To 
this extent Ibn al-Nadun's assignment to Ibn Wahshiyya of a descent from 
Sennacherib was rather unfortunate (Encyclopaedia ofIslam 2 ,att. 'Ibn Wahshiyya'). 

6.t. What is true of the Greeks is true of the Syrians (Chwolson, Uberreste, 

pp. 9of ). 

62. As die Persians had done, cf. the absence of Persian attempts to convert the 
pagans on the one hand, and Ibn Wahshiyya's respect for the Persians who stick 
to their own kfrurafat on the other (ibid., p. 41). 

6\. The largescale conversion of Melkites to Monophysitism in the reign 
of Mu'awiya recorded by Bar Penkaye (Mingana, Sources syriaques, pp. * 147 = 
* 1 76) is a striking testimony to this initial viability of Jacobite Syria. 

64. For the only exception, see F. Omar, The 'Abbasid Caliphate, Baghdad 
1969, p. 316. Rabban-Isho'thoughtthattheLordhadgreatlyhumbledtheSyrians, 
and Bar Salibi answered that His Kingdom is not of this world (Bar Salibi, 'Treatise 
against the Melchites', pp. 83 = 49O; whence the plausibility of Bishop Aziz 
Gii.iie! 's statement that it never even occurred to the Syrians to get mixed up in 
politics (A. Gunel, Turk. S'uryanikr Tarihi, Diyarbekir 1970, p. 322). 

65. As with the passing of time they increasingly came to do: for the fervour 
reached in 1970, see below, p. 212, n. 78. 


Notes to pp. 8j)-jio 

66. For such Shu'ubism, see A. Abel, 'La polemique damascenienne et son 
influence sur les origines de la theologie musulmane', in Cahen, L'Elaboration de 
I'lslam, p. 63 ; for the impression it made, cf. A. Rucker, 'Das fiinfte Buch der 
Rhetorik des Antun von Tagrit', Oriens Christianus 1934, p. 17: the sons of 
Ishmael consider Syriac poor, limited and insignificant. 

67. Baladhuri, Futub, p. 136. 

68. A neat enumeration of the Lord's methods of punishment is given by Joshua 
the Stylite (Chronicle, pp. 1—7 = 1—5), for whom it is the Persians who take on 
the role of the Assyrian rod of anger. The Arabs still assume the same role accord- 
ing to Jacob of Edessa (cf. the passage referred to above, p. 156, n. 2 8); but note 
the changing attitudes towards the Arab conquests betrayed by the anonymous 
author of the 'Spurious Life of James' on the one hand and Mar Cyriac in his 
'Writing about the same holy Mar James' of A.D. 741 on the other: in the first 
Jacob Baradaeus promises that the Lord will drive away the Persians from 
Edessa as he drove away Sennacherib from Jerusalem; whereas in the second the 
Persians take all the lands east of the Euphrates by divine decree to punish Phocas 
for his expulsion of the orthodox (both texts ed. and tr. E. W. Brooks, in Patrologia 
Orientalis, vol. xix, pp. 263, 268f). 

69. ' Michael the Syrian, Chronique, vol. iv, p. 410 = vol. ii, pp. 4i2f; Bar 
Hebraeus, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, vol. i, cols. 273 = 274. Whereas before it 
was not for love of the Arabs that God had allowed them to conquer Syria, now it 
was not in punishment for their sins that he had humiliated the Syrians (Bar 
Salibi, 'Treatise against the Melchites', pp. 84 = ji). For other evidence of 
hostility, towards the Crusaders, see C. Cahen, La Syrie du nord a I'epoque des 
croisades, Paris 1940, pp. 338ff. 

70. So at least if Brockelmann is correct in his interpretation of Jacob of 
Edessa's grammar (Brockelmann, Gescbichte der christlicben Litteraturen des 
Orients, p. 49); but certainly by the ninth century (cf. R. M. Haddad, Syrian 
Christians in Muslim Society, Princeton, N.J. 1970, p. 1 jn). 

71. The Melkites began already in the eighth century with Theodore Abu Qurra, 
the Jacobites followed suit towards the end of the ninth and the beginning of 
the tenth with Habib b. Khidma and Yahya b. 'Adi (Graf, Gescbichte der christ- 
licben arabischen Literatur, vol. ii, pp. 2 2 off). 

72. Brockelmann, Gescbichte der christlicben Litteraturen des Orients, p. 55; 
cf. John of Mardin (d. 1 1 6 5 ), who set up schools to revive 'the Syriac of our father- 
land', in his day forgotten, from its condition of death (A. Voobus, 'Neues Licht 
iiber das Restaurationswerk des Johannan von Marde', Oriens Christianus 1963, 
p. 132). 

73. Bar Hebraeus is the last Syriac author worthy of the name. 

74. J. Nasrallah, 'Syriens et Suriens', in Symposium Syriacum (= Orientalia 
Christiana Analecta, vol. cxcvii), Rome 1974, p. 490. 

75. Cf. the estimates in Haddad, Syrian Christians in Muslim Society, p. 10. 

76. D. Hopwood, The Russian Presence in Syria and Palestine, 1843—1414, 


Notes to pp. $o—$i 

Oxford 1969, p. 27: the Melkites denied being Arabised Greeks and claimed 
descent from the (Monophysite) Arabs of Ghassan and the (Nestorian) Arabs of 
Hira. When this genealogy was adopted is not clear; bur the Melkites had 
adopted Arabic for their liturgy before the seventeenth century (Haddad, 
Syrian Christians in Muslim Society, p. 20). 

77. The exceptions are the Maronites, who still have Syriac as their liturgical 
language (loc. cit.), and isolated pockets of spoken Syriac in the Lebanon and 
Tur 'Abdln (see Rosenthal, Die Aramaistische Forschung, pp. i6off, 261). 

78. It was thanks to the Syrians giving 'Umar the keys to Mesopotamia that 
he was able to occupy it, so he wrote a great charter for them; to perpetuate the 
memory of this deliverance down the ages, the Syrians gave 'Umar the by-name 
'Faruq', a Syriac term meaning 'deliverer' which the Arabs pronounced exacdy 
as they took it from Syriac (Giinel, Turk. Suty antler Tarihi,p. 322). Note that the 
Syrians in Turkey are Turks, just as those in Syria are Arabs ; whereas 'Turkish 
Armenians', for all that many of them spoke only Turkish, is a contradiction in 

79. For the isolated instance of Dik al-Jinn see Goldziher, Muslim Studies, 
vol. i, p. 144. 

80. Jacob of Edessa already has the ruling that Christians who become Hagare- 
nes or pagans and subsequently reconvert do not have to be rebaptised (Kayser, 
Die Canones Jacobs von Edessa, pp. 8 = 37). Pseudo-Methodius also complains of 
conversion, sc. to Islam (E. Sackur, Sibyllinische Texte und Forscbungen, Halle 1898, 
p. 86). See also above, p. 160, n. 57, and p. 13. 

8 1 . The inhabitants of Aleppo abandoned their faith about 798 (Bar Hebraeus, 
Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, vol. i, cols. 337 = 338; for Edessene conversions about 
the same time, see Segal, Edessa, p. 201, and especially p. 206, where they con- 
vert in groups of ten to three hundred. 

82. See above, p. 211, n. 66. 

83. The only Syrian, or quasi-Syrian treasure to come through was a much 
faded Zenobia (F. Muller, Studien iiber Zenobia nach orientalischen Quellen, 
Kirchhain 1902); in this version Rome is reduced to a mere extra in an intertribal 
Arab war, and all Zenobia retains of her Hellenism is a Greek genealogy and a 
Roman suicide, both incorrect. 

84. H. Lammens, 'Le "Sofiam", heros national des Arabes syriens', Bulletin 
de llnstitut francais d'arche'ologie orientate 1923. 

85. Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , art. 'Abu Tammam Hablb b. Aws'. 

86. L. Zuwiyya Yamak, The Syrian Social Nationalist tarty, Cambridge Mass. 
1 966, pp. 76ff. 

87. Cf. the 'Alawite Arab nationalist Arsuzi, who 'took up only what was pre- 
Islamic in Islam' (E. Kedourie, Arab Political Memoirs and Other Studies,Londoa 
1974, p. 200). 

88. Whence the slogan 'to Palestine with the Copts!' (E. Kedourie, The 


Notes to pp. j>i—j>4 

Chatham House Version and other Middle-Eastern Studies, London 1970, p. 200); 
cf. the accusation that die Mar Shimun was plotting with Zionism to establish an 
Assyrian state like Israel in the heart of the Arab world (Proche Orient chretim 
1 9 5 1 , p. 1 40, and compare also Joseph, The Nestorians and their Muslim Neigh- 
bours, p. 224). 


1. Kayser, Die Canones Jacobs von Edessa, p. 29, question 58: may a priest 
instruct the children of the Mahgraye? Jacob's answer is affirmative (Syriac text 
in A. P. de Lagarde, Reliquiae iuris ecdesiastici antiquissimae, Vienna 1 8 j 6, p. 140). 

2. Fiey, Assyrie chretienne, vol. iii, p. ii9n. 

3. Cf. above, pp. 1 34f. 

4. Cf. the alliance between Yazid III and the Ghaylaniyya (J. van Ess, 'Les 
Qadarites et la Gailaniya de Yazid III', Studia Islamica 1970). 

5. The Syrian political ideal is represented by 'Umar II, with his fear of God 
and hell-fire, his abstention from food and women, his copious tears and genera! 
odour of nazirite asceticism (Ibn 'Abd al-rjakam, Sirat 'Umar, especially pp. 
29—50); it was an ideal which, unlike the Persian monarchic tradition, easiiy 
went down as rdshid. 

6. In this the Syrians are not unique. A more recent shot from a settled 
Christian background is that of the Rastafarians of Jamaica. The attempt includes 
an Old Testament ethnicity for the black man as a reincarnation of the ancient 
Israelites, an ethnic appropriation of the Old Testament prophets, a promised 
land in Ethiopia as against an exile in Jamaica whence the messiah Haile Selassie 
is to ingather them, Amharic as the sacred language, and a certain observation of 
the sacred Levitic law (see L. E. Barrett, The Rastafarians: A Study in Messianic 
Cultism in Jamaica, Puerto Rico 1969, especially pp. I28ff). But the black man 
has of course lost his tribes as much as the Syrians, and despite some brandishing 
of the notion of jihad (no doubt via the Black Muslims), the Rastafarians can 
only wait in passivity for their redemption. 

7. Note the contrast between medieval Persia, which for all its conversion to 
Islam is haunted by the Sasanid after-image, and medieval Syria, which for all 
its fidelity to Christianity is haunted by Islam. Bar Salibi with his rabbinic rejec- 
tion of earthly kings, his excessive reliance on scripture, and his dislike of church 
music and hymns, is a particularly striking example ('Treatise against the Melchites', 

8. M. J. Kister, 'The Seven Odes: Some notes on the compilation of the 
Muallaqai, Rivista degli Studi Orientali 1969, p. 29. 

9. G. E. von Grunebaum, Islam: Essays in the Nature and Growth of a Cultural 
Tradition 2 , London 1961, p. 35. 

.10. Riicker, 'Das funfte Buch der Rhetorik des Antun von Tagrit', p. 1 7. 
11. Buhturi's Til descent may very well of course have been genuine; but he 


Notes to pp. j>4—yj 

learnt his neo-classical style from Abu Tammam {Encyclopaedia of Islam 1 , art. 

12. A Mesopotamian mawla of Azd or Bahila, he was governor of the Jazira for 
Umar II, teacher of his children, and one of the principal authorities for the 
manners and customs of this caliph (Tabari, Tartkh, index, Muhammad ibn 
Habib, Kitab al-muhabbar, ed. I. Lichtenstadter, Hyderabad 1942, p. 478; 
Yszid b. Muhammad al-Azdi, Ta'rikh Mawsil, ed. A Habiba, Cairo 1967, 
P- 37)- 

1 }. Ismail b. 'Ubaydallah ibn Abil-Muhajir was a mauila from Damascus, 
teacher of the children of 'Abd al-Malik, governor of North Africa for 
'Umar II, converter of the Berbers, and with his sons famed as an authority on 
Koran reading (Muhammad ibn Hibbin al-Busti, Kitab mashahir 'ulama 
al-amsar, ed. M. Fleichhammcr, Wiesbaden 19 59, p. 179; Ibn Habib, Kitab 
al-muhabbar, p. 476; Baladhuri, Futitb, p. 231; Ibn 'Asakir, Ta'rikh madinat 
Dimashq, vol. ii, p. 50). 

1 4. G. E. von Grunebaum. Medieval Islam: A Study in Cultural Orientation 2 ; 
Chicago 1961, pp. 294-319. 

15. J. Schacht, 'Droit byzantin et droit musulman', in XII Convegno 'Volta', 
Rome 1957. 

16. Hammad was an Iranian from Iraq (Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , s.n.). 

\ 7. Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , s.n. Cf. also the cases of 'Abd al-Samad b. 'Abd 
ai-A'la, whose grandfather was a prisoner from 'Ayn al-Tamr, and who was 
tutor, boon companion and poet to Walid b. Yazid (Tabari, Ta'rikh, I, p. 2 1 2 2 ; 
II, pp. 1741, 1744); Hammad al-Ajrad, a Kufan mawla poet who similarly came 
to Wafid's court {Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , s.n.); or Bashshar b. Burd, whose 
Shu'iibism reached Syria only via the Umayyad princes in Iraq (ibid., s.n.). 

1 8 . Dodge, The First of al-Nadm, p. 1 94 ; Encyclopaedia of Islam \ art. ' Wahb 
b. Munabbih' ; Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , art. 'al-Awza'i'. 

19. For these Syrian ahl al-suffa, see ibid., s.nn. 

20. Madelung, al-Qasim, pp. 239!; note the characteristic concatenation of 
free will, grace, Arab descent and Sufyaniyya. 

2 1 . Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , art. 'Kadariyya'. . 

22. Cf. the failure of Syrian historiography to survive as an independent tra- 
dition: both 'Awana and. Haytham b. 'AdI ended up in Baghdad (ibid., s.nn.). 
That no Syrian tradition survived the change of capital is not surprising: unlike 
die Persians, they could not bear etiolation. 

23. F. E. Peters, Aristotle and the Arabs: The Aristotelian tradition in Islam, 
New York 1968, pp. 4 iff; cf. N. Rescher, The Development of Arabic Logic, 
Pittsburg, Pa. 1964, p. 20. 

24. M. Mole, Les mystiques musulmans, Paris 1965^. 2 1 . For the Fortleben of 
Theophilus and Mary as malamati saints, see ibid., pp. loff. For the distinction 


Notes to pp. j> j— ioo 

between waits by law and walk by grace known to Philoxenus but more popular 
in Iraq, see ibid., p. 16. 

25. Marquet, 'Imamat, Resurrection et Hierarchie selon les Ikhwan as-Safa', 
p. 139. 

26. Notably Yahya b. 'Adi and 'Isa ibn Zur'a, both of whom had to write apolo- 
getics for their study of logic (N. Rescher, Studies in Arabic Philosophy, Pittsburg, 
Pa. 1968, pp. 391). 

27. Tabari, Ta'rikh, I, pp. 292 3f; though at pp. 2924f he is made to deny 
his naziriteship. 

2 8. Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , art. 'Kadariyya'. 

29. ' Ibid., art. 'Bakka". 

30. Ibid., art. 'Djamil al-'Udhri*; note the contrast between the aboriginally 
Arab character of Platonic love as it appears in the Syrian Jamil and thcrecognis- 
ably Platonic definition which came through in Iraq (von Grunebaum, Medieval 
Islam, p. 3 1 7). 

31. The cultural implications of the distinction between priests and rabbis 
will be analysed in chapter 1 3 

3 2 . Abu ' Ubayda's Kitab al-taj must be one of the earliest examples (Goldziher, 
Muslim Studies, vol. i, p. 182). 

33. Already with Bashshar b. Burd (Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , s.n.). 

34. Paul, Ecrits de Qumran et sectes juives aux premiers slides de I'Islam, pp. 1 jf 
and 14 jn. The caliph in this story is Mansur. 

35. A. Guillaume, 'A Debate between Christian and Muslim Doctors', Journal 
of the Royal Asiatic Society, centenary supplement, 1924. The caliph in question 
was Ma'mun. 

36. Muhammad b. Yahya al-Sufi, Adab al-kuttab, ed. M. B. al-Athari, Cairo 
and Baghdad 1 341, p. 193. The vizier was Yahya b. Khalid al-Barmakl. 

37. As suggested by Ibn al-Muqaffa" (see S. D. Goitein, Studies in Islamic 
History and Institutions, Leyden 1966, pp. i63ff). 

38. For clientage as an instance of the latter, see Crone, The Mawali in the 
Umayyad Period, chapter 4. 

39. For an instructive example, see Appendix II. 

40. For the role attributed to eres Ishma'el, see Schacht, Origins, especially 
P- 349- 

41. M. Ullmann, Die Median im Islam, Leyden and Koln 1970, pp. i84ff. 
Contrast Christiariity, where despite the existence of actual scriptural foundations 
for a tibb nabawi, the attempt to develop such a category in opposition to secular 
medicine is reserved to primitives and cranks. 

42. See his Radd 'alal-nasara, in J. Finkel (ed.), Three Essays, Cairo 1926, 
pp. i6f. 


Notes to pp. ioo— 10 1 

43. R. Waker, Greek, into Arabic: Essays in Islamic Philosophy, Oxford 1962, 
pp. 172-4. 

44. So the twelfth-century Spanish scholar Ibn Tumlus, with reference to the 
sciences of the ancients, i.e. philosophy (I. Goldziher, 'Stellung der alten islam- 
ischen Orthodoxie zu den antiken Wissenschaften', Abhandlungen der koniglich 
preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse, 
Jahrgang 191 5, Berlin 1916, p. 3). 

45. The two dilemmas were of course very different inasmuch as the Arabs 
had no lack of a nation with which to nationalise. Like the Romans, the Arabs 
were a people with a Jdhili identity who had come out politically on top of civil- 
isation; and to that extent they might have accepted the cosmopolitan tradition 
for what it was — as indeed they did in Ma'mun's Baghdad. Among the Arabs, 
as among the Romans, Stoicism could have softened the literalist rigidity of the 
native law and sublimated their literalist cult into symbol, just as Homer could 
have provided the model for the epic reformulation of the barbarian past (cf. 
Mahdi's interest in Homer, above, pp. 64f). That the dealings of the Romans 
and the Arabs with the Greek tradition have in actual fact so little in common is an 
indication of the extent to which the rise of Judaic monotheism had transformed 
the cultural potentialities of the relationship of barbarians to civilisation. 

46. Runciman, The Last Bjtgntine Renaissance, pp. y8f. 

47. Waker, L'Eveil de la philosophie islamique, p. 19. 

48. Goldziher, Muslim Studies, vol. i, p. 197; id., 'Stellung', pp. 5, 17, 4of. 
Compare also the defensive tone of Kindl's letter to Mu'tasim: 'We ought not to 
be ashamed of applauding the truth, nor of appropriating the truth, from what- 
ever source it may come, even if it be from remote races and nations alien to us' 
(cited in A. J. Arberry, Revelation and Reason in Islam, London 1957, pp. 34f). 

49. Cf. Goldziher, Muslim Studies, vol. i, p. 56, and H. Ringgren, Studies in 
Arabian Fatalism, Uppsak 1955. And this despite the explicit Koranic con- 
demnation of the poets (26:224). streak of hostility to the pagan tradition 
of Arabia in Islam is as marginal as the streak of hostility to the pagan tradition of 
Hellas in Christianity. 

50. 'Who was Kind! to rush to the aid of God's word with the tools of mere 
human reason?' as against 'Who was Philoponus to yap at the heels of the great 
philosophers?' (cf. Waker, Greek, into Arabic, pp. 19 if). ; • 

51. Goldziher, 'Stellung', pp. 35-9. Cf. the ill-assured character of Ghazali's 
advocacy of the use of logic in the religious sciences {ibid., pp. 29—33). 

5 2. For this unholy alliance aimed at the destruction of the category of celestial 
causality which gave the Hellenic universe order and beauty, see M. Fakhry, 
Islamic Occasionalism and its Critique by Averroes and Aquinas, London 1958, 
chapter if; cf. the lines of William Blake: 

The Atoms of Democritus 

And Newton's Particles of light 

Are sands upon the Red sea shore, 

Where Israel's tents do shine so bright. 
2 16 

Notes to pp. 1 01—104 

\i on the other hand one accepts the arguments for an Indian origin of the atoms 
of /plant (S. Pines, Beitrdge sur islamiscbm Atomtnlehre, Berlin 1936, pp. 102— 22), 
the unholiness of the alliance remains : in India as in Greece, the point of atoms is 
to generate a universe which operates without supernatural guidance. 

53. §. Mardin, The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought, Princeton, N.J. 196a, 
P . 238. 

54. Cf. the changing meaning of philosophical esotericism : what in antiquity had 
come to represent the condescension of a socially accredited intellectual elite to- 
wards the limited capacities of simpler souls becomes in Islam something verging 
on paranoia (compare the benignly patronising tone of the term simpliciores as 
elucidated in W. Jaeger, Early Christianity and Greek. Paideia, Cambridge, Mass. 
1962, pp. 129—31, with the fear of the 'amvia that permeates the culture des- 
cribed in N. R. Keddie, 'Symbol and Sincerity in Islam', Studia Islamica 1963). 

55. B. H. Warmington, Carthage 2 , London 1969, p. 152. Unlike Rome, 
Carthage had its own Semitic civilisation, and so was in no need of a Greek one. 

56. Encyclopaedia of Islam 1 , s.n. (Ibn Tufayl's story). 
5 7. Cf. above, p. 131. 

58. Thus the Prophet appealed to both the red and the black of mankind, and 
so the non-Arabs were half of Islam right from the outset (Ibn 'Abd Rabbin, Kiidb 
al-iqd, vol. iii, pp. 4o6f ). 

59. For his Kharijism, see H. A. R. Gibb, 'The Social Significance of the 
Shuubiya', in his Studies on the Civilhgtion of Islam, London 1962, pp. 67ff;for 
his Kitab al-taj, cf. above, p. 21 j, n. 32. 

60. Everything of importance had been said in the works of previous generations 
(Goitein, Studies in Islamic History and Institutions, p. 152). 

61. Ibid., pp. 1 5 2ff. 

62. Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , s.n. 

63. Ibn 'Abd Rabbih, Kitab al-'iqd, vol. iii, pp. 404ff. 

64. For a vivid presentation of the Shu'ubi claims see Goldziher, Muslim 
Studies, vol. i, chapters 3—5. 

65. Or to pick up a contemporary image, the persuasive powers of people who 
.were 'dragged to Paradise in chains' were necessarily limited (Bukhari, Sahih, 
vol. ii, p. 250; Ibn 'Abd Rabbih, Kitab al-iqd, vol. iii, p. 412). 

.66. A notable instance is the diudn. 

67. Cf. below, p. 226, n. 40. 

68. A 'kernel of derangement' from the point of view of the rabbis (cf. 
Gibb, Studies on the Civilhgtion of Islam, p. 72). 

69. Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , art. 'Ibn al-Muqaffa". 

70. The Islamic mirrors for princes and similar sources are acquainted with the 
farr-i hgdi, but they also bring out the bleak lack of any historical dimension in 
such legitimacy as they claim for kings : the assertion of an arbitrary and histor- 


Notes to pp. 104—10$ 

ically unmediated divine choice as the determinant of who rules was a great deal 
more appropriate to Islamic Iran that it would have been in Sasanid Iran or 
medieval Europe (for tags of the type 'God chooses someone from among the 
people', 'He gives it [kingshipjto whomsoever He wills', see for example A. K.S. 
Lambton. "The Theory of Kingship in the Nasihat ul-Muluk. of GhazaGVT&e 
Islamic Quarterly 1954, pp. 49, 52). 

71. R. C. Zaehner, Hindu and Muslim Mysticism, London i960. 
7i. Cf. the ahl al-suffa. 

7 3 . Only European scholars have tried to find the origins of Islamic art in 
Arabia (cf. O. Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art, New Haven, Conn. 1973, 

P . 80). 

74. For the exodus of Nabonidus from his qarya yilima, cf. C. J. Gadd, "The 
Harrac Inscription of Nabonidus', Anatolian Studies 19 j 8, pp. 57ft. 


i • J. Lassner, The Topography of Baghdad in the Early Middle Ages, Detroit 

1970, p. 128. 

i. It is of course true that, alongside their indigenous castes and concepts, the 
Indians acquired their devotional cults from the Dravidians ; but this is more like 
the early Greek acquisition of Dionysus from Thrace than their later acquisition 
of Yahweh from the Jews. 

3. There was admittedly a Danishmendid who styled himself 'malik of all 
Romania' (S. Vryonis, The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the 

Process of Islamnation from the Eleventh through the Ftfteenth Century, Berkeley 

1 97 1 , p. 47 3); but there is no Seljuq parallel, and Hasan b. Gabras was no Greek 
Ibn al-Muqaffa' {ibid., p. 231). 

4. Goldziher, Muslim Studies, vol. i, p. 128. 

5. Baladhuri, Futuh, pp. 373ff. 

6. J. Harmatta, 'The middle Persian-Chinese Bilingual Inscription from Hsian 
and the Chinese-Sas'anian Relations', in Atti del Convegno Internationale sul 
i«ma: La Persia nel Medioevo. 

7. Sebeos, Histoire, p. 143. 

R. Ut animae nascentibus, ita populis fatales genii dividuntur (Symmachus, cited 
in P. Courcelle, 'Anti-Christian Arguments and Christian Platonism from Arnobtus 
to St. Ambrose', in Momigliano, The Conflict between Paganism and Christianity 
in the Fourth Century, p. 175). 

9. Contrast the fate of Marduk, whose sponsorship of a series of Babylonian 

pretenders got him thoroughly broken into the ground. 
10. Or again, compare the relationship between Buddhism and Ceylon. In 
contrast to Zoroastrianism vis-a-vis Iran, Buddhism had nothing to say about 
Ceylon in its metropolitan scriptures. But in contrast to Islam vis-a-vis Iran, it 


Notes to pp. 10 jt — 1 10 

gave the Ceylonese carte blanche to say what they liked about themselves in the 
provincial church history. Buddhism was not intrinsically for or against Ceylon, 
it was simply above it. But Islam was against Iran as much as Zoroastrianismhad 
been for it. 

1 1 . The contrast between the position of the Indians under Spanish rule and 
that of the Greeks under Ottoman rule is instructive: the republics de los Indies 
represented the formal toleration of a political distinctiveness within a religiously 
homogeneous empire, the Orthodox millet the formal toleration of a religious 
distinctiveness within a politically homogeneous empire. 

12. Cf. above, p. 130. 

13. E. Sachau, Zur Gescbichte von Khwariipt, Abhandlungen der Kaiserlichen 
Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philologisch-historische Klasse, vol. lxxiv, Berlin 

14. For the wider outbreak of Sasam'd descent among the Iranian dynasties of 
this period, see C. E. Bosworth, 'The Heritage of Rulership in early Islamic 
Iran and the Search for Dynastic Connections with the Past', Iran 1973; even the 
Arab Yazidids of Sharwan became Sasanid da'h (ibid., p. 60). 

15. Now how the first Caspian adventurers had talked in terms of an anti- 
Islamic restoration (Madelung, "The Assumption of the Title Shahanshah', pp. 
86—8); compare the vivid hope of such a restoration that finds expression in the 
ninth-century Zoroastrian writings (H. W. Bailey, Zoroastrian Problems in the 
Ninth-Century Books 1 , Oxford 1 971, pp. i95ff). 

16. Ibid., pp. 80—92, 162ft The indeterminacy of the evidence on both these 
points is unfortunate, but not without its own significance. In origin, Zoroastrian 
dualism was in intellectual terms a solution to a problem alternatively soluble by 
the concepts of the Greeks and Indians. But because for historical reasons the 
Zoroastrian solution took the form of an ethnic theism, it easily made the transition 
from membership of the original conceptual set to membership of the new mono- 
theist set that arose from the Judaic tradition. The analogy between Zoroaster and 
Moses as ethnic lawgivers claiming a theist sanction was already remarked by the 
Greeks (Bidez and Cumont, Les mages hellenise's, vol. ii, p. 30). When the Judaic 
model became normative, the Zoroastrians had only to press the analogy: the 
philosophy of the Magi became their theology. And it is a back-handed com- 
pliment to the force of the analogy that the Christians and Muslims should have 
responded by branding Zoroaster as a Jew (ibid., vol. i, p. 50). 

17. Goldziher, Muslim Studies, vol. i, p. 130. 

1 8. The Husaynids thus have the edge on the Hasanids by virtue of the fact that 
a shahrbanuya was their maternal ancestor (G. Le Strange and R. A Nicholson 
(eds.), The Farsnama of Ibnul-Balkjot, London 192 1, p. 4). Cf. also the Car- 
mathian view that God does not like the Arabs because they killed Husayn and 
prefers the subjects of Khusraw because only they defended the rights of the 
imams (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, vol. i, p. 162). 

19. Bar Penkaye in Mingana, Sources syriaques, pp.* 156— 68 = * 183— 95 


Notes to pp. no— 112 

(no information is given regarding the doctrine of Mukhtar). There is thus a 
fair-sized grain of truth in the unfashionable view of Ibn Hazm: "The reason 
why most of these sects deserted the religion of Islam is, at bottom, this. The 
Persians originally were the masters of a large kingdom and had the upper hand 
over all the nations . . . But when .' . . their empire was taken away from them, 
by the Arabs . . . they made up their minds to beguile Islam ..." (I. Friedlaender, 
"The Heterodoxies of the Shiites in the Presentation of Ibn Hazm' Journal of the. 
American Oriental Society 1907, p. 35). 

20. He was, according to Mas'udi, a descendant of the Persian kings, and from 
the same Isfahan whence the astrologers predicted the rise of a Persian dynasty 
which would overthrow the caliphate (Madelung, The Assumption of the Title 
Shahanshah', p. 87n). 

21. J. Aubin, 'La politique religieuse des Safavides', in T. Fahd et al., Le 
ShTisme imdmite, Paris 1970, p. 240. 

22. Madelung, 'The Assumption of the Tide Shahanshah', p. I75n. 

2 j. The seventeenth-century author Qu?b al-din Ashkevari cautiously suggests 
a parallel between the Zoroastrian Soshans and the Imanu mahdi (H. Corbin, 
'L'idee du Paraclet en philosophic iranienne', in Atti del Convegno Internationale 
ml tema: La Persia nel Medioevo, p. 58). But this is something of a find; whereas 
the idea that the Isma'ill imam is an incarnation of Visnu is a commonplace of 
Nizarism in India. 

24. E. Gellner, Saints of the Atlas, London 1969, p. 295. 

2 5 . For these kjourafat al- 'ajam see Goldziher, Muslim Studies, vol. i, pp. 1 3 5f. 

26. Contrast the readiness of Buddhism to provide footprints of its founder in 
accordance with the exigencies of political geography. 

27. For his status in the hierarchy, see Bailey, Zoroastrian Problems, p. 78. 

28. Such at least was the view of the Sahib b. 'Abbad (I. Goldziher, 'Die 
Su'ubijja unter den Muhammedanern in Spanien', Zeitschrift der Deutschen 
Morgenl'dndischen Gesellschaft 1899, p. 6o5n). 

29. For this development see particularly G. Lazard, La langue des plus anciens 
monuments de la prose per sane, Paris 1963, introduction and part one, and id., 
Les premiers pokes persons (IX'— X' siecles), Paris and Tehran 1964, vol. i. 

30. Even direct translation is rare (for an isolated but significant example, see 
V. Minorsky, 'The older Preface to the Shah-ndmeh\ in his Iranica: Twenty 
Articles, Tehran 1964). We know more of Pahlavi literature from translations 
into Arabic than into Persian. 

31. As for example in the Greek verses of Sultan Veled (Vryonis, The Decline 
of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor, p. 38m). 

32. So Ibn al-Athlr al-Jazarl (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, vol. i, p. i6on). 

33. A comparison which brings out the ideological, if not perhaps the literary, 
gains to be had from composing one's national epic after the event: neither 
the Iliad nor the Mahabharata are encouraging as charters for national 


Notes to pp. 113— 114 

34. Sebeos, Histoire, p. 149 (referring to the first civil war). 

35. D. Dennett, Conversion and Poll-tax in Early Islam, Cambridge, Mass. 
1950, chapter 5. 

36. Apart from the forced conversions attributed to Asbagh and 'Ulnar II 
(C. H. Becker, 'Historische Studieniiber das Londoner Aphroditowerk', Der 

191 1,. p. 365), the most notable instance is that of the 24,000 Christians who 
were brought to convert by IJafs b. Wafid (Basset, 'Le Synaxaire arabe jacobite', 
in Patrologia Orientalis, vol. xvi, p. 233; Kindi, Kitdb al-uuldt, pp. 84H; Severus 
ibn al-Muqaffa', History of the Patriarchs, in Patrologia Orientalis, vol. v, pp. 1 1 6f ), 
though some also converted with the arrival of the 'Abbasids (ibid., p. 189), 

37. I. M. Lapidus, 'The Conversion of Egypt to Islam', Israel Oriental Stadia 
1972; C. H. Becker, 'Die Arabisierung', in his Beitr'dge Tjtr Geschicbte Agyptens 
unter dem Islam, Strassburg i902f. The evidence relating to conversion in Ziadeh, 
'L'Apocalypse de Samuel', pp. 389 = 402, seems likely to refer to the Fitimid 

38- M. Meyerhof, 'Von Alexandrien nach Baghdad', in Sitytngsberichte der 
Prettssiscben Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philologisch-historische Klasse, vol. 
xxiii, Berlin 1930. 

39. Dodge, The Fihrist of al-Nadim, p. 581. 

40. Encyclopaedia of Islam 1 , s.n. 

41. The eleventh-century Egyptian Ibn Ridwan thus had to make an immense 
virtue of being an autodidact in his controversy with Ibn Butlan, the distinguished 
Christian philosopher of Baghdad (J. Schacht, 'Uber den Hellenismus in Baghdad 
und Cairo imn. Jahrhundert', Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenldndischen Gestll- 
schaft 1936). The Farimids gave the Coptic church something of an intellectual 
Indian summer; but the thirteenth-century Butrus b. al-Rahib, who was about the 
nearest thing to a Coptic Ibn Butlan, typically directed his knowledge of philo- 
sophy to combating it (Rescher, The Development of Arabic Logic, pp. 205!). 

42.. Schacht, Origins, ?. 9. 

43. Ghaylin was of course a Copt, but the Ghaylaniyya was a Syrian, not an 
Egyptian movement; note also that only Egypt and Khurasan had no representa- 
tives among the Qadaris (Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , art. 'Kadariyya'). 

44. A rare instance of Coptic in Arabic script is evidence precisely of the loss 
of Coptic in Christianity, not of efforts to preserve it in Islam (see for this text 
E. Galtier, 'Coptica-Arabica', Bulletin de Vlnstitut francais d'archeologie oriental 
1906, pp. 9 iff). 

45. W. B. Bisliai, 'The Transition from Coptic to Arabic', The Muslim Worhi 
1963, p. 149. ' 

46. G. Wiet (ed.), L'Egypte de Murtadi fils du Gaphiphe, Paris 1953. For the 
author see' Y. Rigib's note in Arabica 1974. 

47. F. Cumont, L'Egypte des astrologues, Brussels 1937. Note also that the 
Muslim Horapollon is not an Egyptian but a Chaldean astrologer: it is Ibn 
Wahshiyya who flaunts Egyptian hieroglyphs in his Ancient Alphabets. 


Notes to pp. 114— ii j 

4?. Baron von Rosen's suggestion that Ibn Waslf Shah's materials are of 
Shu'ubi origin was accepted by Goldziher {Muslim Studies, vol. i,pp. I47f)- Also 
significant in this connection is the account of Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of 
Egypt found in Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam and many other Arabic sources (cf. the 
references given by Wiet, L'Egypte de Murtadi, p. 28n). This account clearly 
derives from a version close to that given by John of Nikiu of the invasion of 
Egypt by Cambyses (Charles, The Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu, chapter li), 
which itself represents an advanced stage of the myth of the destructiveness of the 
Persian conquest which first appears in Herodotus (see F. K. Kienitz, Die politische 
Geschichte Agyptens vom 7. bis^um 4. Jahrhundert vor der Zeituende, Berlin 1953,' 
p. 5 511). John of Nikiu 's account is in turn clearly related to the Coptic story of 
the invasion of Cambyses/ Nebuchadnezzar (see above, p. 54). The conflation of. 
Cambyses and Nebuchadnezzar, which in John of Nikiu takes the form of iden- 
tifying the former as Nebuchadnezzar II, runs through the whole tradition; it 
goes back at least to the early fifth century after Christ (A. L'incke, 'Kambyses 
in der Sage, Litteratur und Kunst des Mittelalters', in Aegyptiaca: Festschrift 
fur Georg Ebers, Leipzig 1897, p. 45), and is still explicit in a few of the Arabic 

49. Cf. the residual Egyptian patriotism suggested by Ibn Tulun's recom- 
mendation regarding the employment of native rather than Iraqi secretaries in 
Egypt (Z. M. Hassan, Les Tulunides, Paris 1933, p- 215)- 

50. Cf. above, p. 212, n. 88. 

51. Cf. the attitude of Ma'mun, who had the pyramids opened on the 
occasion of his visit to Egypt. 

52. Cf. the disappointed comment of the Sahib b. 'Abbad on the'Ii^of Ibn 
'Abd Rabbih: 'It's just our own goods they're sending back to us' (E. Levi- 
Provencal, Histoire de I'Espagne musulmane, Paris and Leyden 1950—3, vol. 
iii, p. 493). 

53 G. Levi della Vida, 'I Mozarabi tra Occidente e Islam', in L'Occidente e 
Vlslavi ndl'alto Medioevo (= Ccntro Italiano di Studi sull'alto Medioevo, 
Settimane di Studi, no. xii), Spoleto 196}. 

54. Though one tenth-century writer took pride in his royal Gothic descent 
(Levi -Provencal, Histoire, vol. i, p. 76). 

55. Ibid., vol. ii, pp. 225—39. 

56. S. M. Stern, Hispano-Arabic Strophic Poetry, Oxford 1974. 

57. Goldziher, 'Die Su'ubijja unter den Muhammedahern in Spanien', 
p. 608 . Compare the way in which Turtushi, writing on kingship in Andalusia, 
does so in terms of a Persian, not a Gothic model (Lambton, 'Islamic Mirrors 
for Princes', p. 424); and less certainly, the way in which the muuallad Ibn 
Ha:m lays claim to Persian ancestry (Levi-Provencal, Histoire, vol. iii, p. 182). 

; 8. Ibid., vol. i, p. 11 3n. Cf. the lack of local colour in the heterodoxies of the 
mystic Ibn Masarra (ibid., vol. iii, pp. 48 jf). 

59. Ibid., ■p. 480. 


Notes to pp. is j— 120 

60. Cf. R. Brunschvig, 'Polemiques medievales autour du rite de Malik', 
Al-Andalus 1950. 

61. Cf. above, p. 183, n. 43. 

62. Compare Levi-Proven?al, Histoire, vol. ii, pp. 127, 2241", and M. Talbi, 
L'emirat Aghlabide 184—296/800—20$: Histoire politique, Paris 1966. 

63. . LeVi-Provencal,.i/«fc>»e, vol. i, pp. 269f. 

64. See for example ibid., pp. 342ff. 

6j. Ibid., p. 377 (and cf. vol. ii, p. i6n). He was of course a political 
opportunist; but political opportunists presumably have an eye for ideological 

66. S.- Piggott, The Druids, London 1968, pp. 114, 127. 

67. Levi-Provencal, Histoire, vol. ii, p. 51. 

68. Cf. the translation of the Psalms into raja\(Levi della Vida, 'I Mozarabi 
tra Occidente e Islam', p. 680; compare the use of classical metres for religious 
poetry in Byzantium, Hussey, Church and Learning, p. 33). Clearly Virgil was 
more to late Roman Spain than Homer to late Roman Syria. 

69. So the 'Sad Dar', tr. E. W. West, in Pahlavi Texts (= M. Miiller (ed.), 
The Sacred Books of the East, vols, xif), New York 1901, part three, p. 346; cf. 
Bailey, Zoroastrian Problems, p. 162. 

70. T. Lewicki, 'Prophetes, devins et magiciens chez les Berberes medievaux', 
Folia Orientalia 1965, pp. 7—12. 

71. Note the equivalence of Berber prophecy and heresy suggested by the 
events of the Kutama rebellion of 91 if: the Fatimid ruler having executed the 
dai who had rallied the Berbers to Isma'ilism, they put at their head a Berber 
prophet whose residence was declared a qibla {ibid., pp. 9f). 

72. C. Bekri, 'Le Kharijisme berbere. Quelques aspects duroyaumerustumide', 
Annales de I'lnstitut d' etudes orientates 1957. Note also how North African 
Ibadism provides the locus for the appearance (or reappearance?) of a religious 
institution unknown elsewhere in Islam, the 'Azzaba (Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , 
art. 'Halka'). 

73. G. Marcais, La Berberie musulmane et V Orient au moyen age, Paris 1946, 
pp. H9f. 

74. Cf. W. H. C. Frend, The Donatist Church : A Movement oj ^Protest in Roman 
North Africa, Oxford 1952, pp. 172-8. 


1. Delahaye, 'Passio sanctorum sexagintamartymm', pp. 3oif. 

2. Compare the doctrinal aggressiveness with which, in the account given by 
Sebeos, the Hagarene ruler invites the Byzantine emperor to 'convert to the 
great God whom I serve, the God of our father Abraham' (see above, p. 6). 

3. Nau, 'Le texte grec des recits du moine Anastase', pp. 87—9 = id., Les 


Notes to pp. 120—122 

recits ine'dits du moine Anastase', pp. Incidentally, the reference elsewhere 
in the same text (pp. 82 = 38) to Saracens on Mt Sinai blaspheming the holy 
place suggests that they did not as yet recognise the Christian identification of the 

4. Cf. the whiff of islam in the behavioural identity of surrender and conversion. 

5 . Compare the report of the Nestorian patriarch Isho'yahb III that the Mazun 
of Oman were being permitted to remain Christians only on the surrender of half 
their property, and contrast his emphasis on the favourable attitude of the con- 
querors to the church in his own area (116 'yahb III, Liber Epistularum,yp. 251 = 
182; F. Nau, 'Maronites, Mazonites et Maranites', Revue de I'Orient chritien 
1904, pp. 269-72). 

6. Contrast the position of the gentile 'fearers of God* of Hellenistic times 
vis-a-vis their Jewish mentors. 

7. It is only in the Christian account of the Abrahamic sanctuary given in the 
Khuzistam chronicle (see p. 175, n. 48) that the cult is presented with consistendy 
defensive relativism as the mere veneration of a distinguished ancestor on the part 
of his faithful descendants. 

8. In the fifth century St Euthymius had told his Arab converts that they were 
no longer sons of Hagar but sons of Sarah, and thus heirs to the promise (Cyril of 
Scythopolis, 'Vita et res gesta S. P. N. Euthymii', PG, vol. cxiv, col. 617; cf. 
Rom. 9:8, Gal. 4:28). The teaching of the Hagarene prophet was an exact inver- 
sion of that of the Christian saint: where Euthymius brought the genealogy into 
line with the promise, Muhammad brought the promise into line with the gene- 

9. Cf. Bamberger, Proselytism in the Talmudic Period, p. 163. This is not of 
course to deny that the tension here analysed in Islam is present in embryo in 
Judaic attitudes to the proselyte (cf. ibid., pp. 149^. 

10. Michael the Syrian, Chronique, vol. iv. pp. 45 if = vol. ii, pp. 480—2. 

1 1 . Statements of the type 'The Arabs were ennobled by the Aposde of God' 
(see below, p. 2 2 5 , n. 2 4), by implication give up Abrahamic genealogy as a bad 

1 2. Cf. the claim that God chose Ishmael from among the children of Abraham 
(Ibn Qudama, Kitab al-mugbni, vol. vii, p. 375 ; Zayn al-din 'Abd al- Rahman al- 
'Iraqi, al-Qurab ft mahabbati 'I- Arab, ed. I. H. al-Qadiri, Alexandria 1961, 
p. 92). 

13. Cf . the telling Shu' ubl point that all major prophets before Muhammad had 
been non- Arabs (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, vol. i, p. 155). 

14. Cf. Koran 22:66; Kister, 'Haddithu', p. 234, and above, p. 16. 

15. Cf. the warning of 'All to the Arabs a propos of the Hamra' that 'they will 
beat you at religion in return for your beating them at it in the beginning' (Abu 
'Ubayd al-Qasim b. Sallam, Gharib al-badith, vol. iii, Hyderabad 1966, p. 484), 
and the view attributed to Thumama and Jahiz according to which the Nabateans 
have a certain superiority over the Arabs inasmuch as they accepted Islam without 


Notes to pp. 122—123 

the appearance of a prophet from amongst themselves (J. van Ess, 'Gahiz und die 
ashab al-ma'arif', Der Islam 1966, p. i76n). 

16. Gf. Goldziher, Muslim Studies, vol. i, p. 112. 

1 7. Compare the argument of the fourteenth-century Damiri that the Arabs 
are the primary authority in a question of ritual practice 'because the faith is Arab' 
(R. Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, Cambridge 1957, pp. i74f) with the 
tighter rabbinic notion that 'although the Israelites are not prophets, the)' are the 
sons of prophets' (Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript, p. 75n). 

18. Cf. the attempts of whole peoples to lay claim to Arab descent (Goldziher, 
Muslim Studies, vol. i, pp. 1 34.f; Y. F. Hasan, The Arabs and the Sudan : from the 
seventh to the early sixteenth century, Edinburgh 1967, chapter 5). 

19. Contrast the ethnic decontamination of Christianity and Buddhism, wher; 
the conceptual extrapolation of a universal religion from the way of life of a 
particular people was sooner or later given concrete reinforcement by the non- 
adherence of the people whose religion it originally was. 

20.. See for example Tabari, Tarikh, I, p. 2216. 

21. See for example the latter part of the citation given below, note 24, 
and Goldziher, Muslim Studies, vol. i, p. 72. 

22. Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Sarakhsi, Kitdb al-mabsut, Cairo 
1324—31, vol. v, p. 24; Goldziher, Muslim Studies, vol. i, p. 142. 

23. Compare the Judaic notion of 'the merit of the fathers' (Bamberger, Pro- 
sily tism in the Talmudic Period, p. 151). 

24. A striking concatenation of the two is provided in 'Umar's account of the 
principles underlying his organisation of the diu/an (Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqat, vol. iii, 
part one, pp. 2i2f). He begins by saying of Muhammad: 'He is our nobility 
(sbaraf) and his people are the noblest of the Arabs; for the rest it follows 
proximity.' The Arabs were ennobled by the Aposde of God.' Merit is thus, 
distributed genealogically. But he continues by insisting that, however close one's 
genealogy may be to that of the Prophet, 'even so, by God, if the non- Arabs 
should come with works and we should, come with none, then they will be closer 
to Muhammad than us on the Day of Judgment*. If sharafweie profane nobility, 
tribal or other, we should have a disjunction between the equality of all Muslims 
as believers and their inequality as members of a this-wordly social structure: 
as it is we have a dichotomy within the concept of their merit as Muslims. 

25. Crone, The Mauali in the Umayyad Period, chapter 4. 

26. Ibid., chapter 4 and pp. 280, 282. 

27. 'Iraqi, Qurab, p. 1 74. When Adam was expelled he spoke Syriac; when he 
repented he was permitted to speak Arabic again. 

28. The legitimist heritage of barbarian kingship so prominent in the history of 
Europe is thus as absent from Islamic history as imperial traditions. 

29. Cf. Wallace-Hadrill, The Long-Haired Kings, p. 44. Similarly the ethnic 
tradition behind the insistence of the Goth Athanaric on being styled judge' 


Notes to pp. i2$—i2j 

and not 'king' found no religious sanction in Christianity (Thompson, The Visigoths 
in the time of Ulfila, p. 46). 

50. This character is also in evidence below the level of the central institution: 
consider the role of the Qurashi provincial governor, set over war and prayer, 
and established in a residence adjoining the most sacred wall of the mosque with, 
private access thereto (in the words of Ziyad b. Abihi, 'It is not fitting that the 
imam should pass through the people', Baladhuri, Futuh, p. 347). 

31. D. Sourdel, 'La politique religieuse du calife 'Abbaside Al-Ma'mun', Revue 
aes etudes islamiques 1963. Note particularly the emphasis on learning. 

32. Cf. Gibb's suggestive sketch, 'Some Considerations on the Sunni Theory of 
die Caliphate', in his Studies on the Civilh^tion of Islam. 

3 3 . The fact that Islam is so lacking in authority structures in comparison to 
Christianity is in part a reflection of the organisational decay of Judaism: Christ- 
ianity broke with Judaism while there was still a Sanhedrin from which Torah 
went out to all Israel. But it reflects a devolution internal to Hagarism that where 
the Jewish metivta is an academic institution, the Islamic majlis is merely an aca- 
demic occasion. 

34. See Goitein, Studies in Islamic History and Institutions, p. 205. 

3 5. See W. M. Patron, Ahmed ibn Hanbal and the Mihna, Leyden 1897, 
especially pp. 141—54. 

36. See Talbi, L'mirat Aghlabide, pp. 232—46. 

37. As late as the caliphate of al-Mahdi, 'Abbasid doctrine is of a type which 
by Sunni standards could only be classed as Rafidi (Nawbakhti, Kitdb firaq al- 
ibi' a, p. 43). 

38. Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , art. 'Imama'. 

39. Cf. above, p. 182, n. 35. 

40. Madelung, 'The Assumption of the Tide Shahanshah' ; contrast the op- 
position of religious tradition (in direct inheritance from Judaism) to the tide 
walik al-amlak. {ibid., p. 84). 

41. M. van Berchem, 'Titres califiens d'Occident', Journal asiatique 1907. 

42. Examples range from Dawwani's generous provision of caliphates for all 
righteous rulers, not excluding his own patron Uzun Hasan (A. K. S. Lambton, 
'Quis custodiet custodcs: Some Reflections on the Persian Theory of Govern- 
most', Studia Islamica 1956 bis, part one, p. 146), to the idiosyncratic ambitions 
of King Faruq (Kedourie, 'Egypt and the Caliphate', in his The Chatham House 
Version). There are of course some partial exceptions, notably Sharifian Morocco. 

43. Cf. the celebrated formulation of Ibn Jama a cited in attestation of the 
ripeness of the Middle East for Communist takeover in B. Lewis, 'Communism 
and Islam', in W. Z. Laqueur (ed.), The Middle East in Transition, London 1958, 
p. 319. 

44. Note how the 'mirrors for princes' commend the Sasanid model not so 
much for itself but as a sort of 'expedient justice', a technique for mamtaining the 


Notes to pp. izj—128 

ecological balance of a settled society (see for example A K. S. Lambton, 'Justice 
in the Medieval Persian Theory of Kingship', Studia hlamica 1962, pp. 100, 
107, 118). 

45. Cf. L. Dumont, "The Conception of Kingship in Ancient India', in his 
Religion/ Politics and History in India, Paris/The Hague 1970, p. 80 (on the 

46. The Egyptian papyri bear eloquent testimony to 'Abd al-Malik's Islamisa- 
tion of the language of the dwan; but its methods and personnel remained 
obdurately infidel for centuries, a preserve of the Copts glumly excused on grounds 
of necessity, and from which they were finally ousted only when the practice of 
Muslim government was itself abrogated by another race of infidels, the British 
(see D. S. Richards, "The Coptic Bureaucracy under the Mamluks', and A H. 
Hourani, 'The Syrians in Egypt in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries', 
p. 228, both in Colloque International sur I'Histoire du Caire, Grafenhainichen 
n.d.). Compare the dubiously profane and pre-Islamic culture of the 'Abbasid 
viziers and the milieu from which they stemmed (Sourdel, Le Vrqrat 'abbdside, 
pp. 57off). 

47. Contrast the project put forward by Ibn al-Muqaffa', whereby the caliph 
would have done for Islamic law what Justinian had done for Roman law. 

48. J. R. Levenson, Confucian China and its Modern Fate, Berkeley and Los 
Angeles 1968, vol. ii, part two. 

49. Crone, The Mawdli in the Umayyad Period, chapter 3. The prominence of 
merchants and slave-girls is also symptomatic of the demise of aristocracy. 

50. Ibid. The Romans by contrast only had mamlik? for fun. 

51. Cf. J. Dunn, Modern Revolutions; An Introduction to the Analysis of a 
Political Phenomenon, Cambridge 1972, p. 94. 

5 2. Which is not of course to deny the relevance of the Greek model. If Arabic 
was be differentiated into an Attic and a koine, it required the Greek gram- 
matical tradition to keep them apart; and if the Koran was to be a miracle of 
stylistic perfection, it required all the sophistry of the Greek rhetorical tradition 
to show how this was so. (Note how in seventh-century Syria one still learnt Attic 
at Qinneshrin, Michael the Syrian, Chronique, vol. iv, p. 447 = vol. ii, p. 475.) 

53. Cf. Galen's comments, and in particular his discussicn of creation exnihilo 
as' the supreme acte gratuit (R. Walzer, Galen on Jem and Christians, London 
1949, pp. 23-37). 

54. Cf.. W. D. O'Flaherty, Asceticism and Eroticism in the Mythology of Siva, 
London 1973- 

5 5 . Though not of course one which bears too much thinking about, cf. Job. 

56. In so far as Buddhists and Marxists come anywhere remotely near success 
in this, both of them do so in virtue of a resource outside the universe as it is: 
what extinction does for Buddhism, the future does for Marxism. 

57. Cf. Ghazali's celebrated observation that the essential condition for a 


Notes to pp. 128— 131 

man to hold a traditional faith is that he should not know that he is a traditionalist : 
if the Jewish rabbi who believes bila k_ayf\s a Ghazalian traditionalist, the Muslim 
rabbi who self-consciously asserts his balkafa has lost this grace. 

58. G. Makdisi, 'Ibn Taymiya: a Sufi of the Qadiriya Order', The American 
Journal of Arabic Studies 197}. The comforts of mysticism were of course 
structurally insecure in a religion in which the lost Judaic intimacy could not be 
restored in the Christian form of mystery. 

59. Compare the career opportunities of German nuclear physicists and secret 
policemen after the Second World War. 

60. Hunayn b. Ishaq could win the approval of Ma'mun by referring to the two 
shari'as, the Hippocratic and the Nazarene, to which he was subject (Abu 
'1- 'Abbas Ahmad b. al-Qasim ibn Abi Usaybi'a, Kitdb 'uyim. al-anba ft tabaqat 
al-atjbba ', ed. A Miiller, vol. i, Cairo 1 882, p. 1 88). But rjunayn was a Christian 
and Ma'mun a priest. 


1. Cf. above, p. 217, n. 65. 

2. For eastern Iran as a series of Hagarene protectorates, see H. A. R. Gibb, 
The Arab Conquests in Central Asia, London 192 3. Compare the sanctificationby 
Ma'mun and Mu'tasim of a whole range of principalities in eastern Iran through 
a liberal use of wala (here of islam — Baladhuri, Futuh, pp. 43off ), which later 
declined into a mere face-saving device for caliphal use vis-a-vis the. Buyid 
Shahanshahs (Madelung, "The Assumption of the Tide Shahanshah', p. 105). 

3. Cf. the persistence of the religious flavour of the native polity in Usrushana, 
despite the nominal conversion of the dynasty, as it appears in the trial of the' 
Afshin (Tabari, Ta'rikh, III, pp. 1309—13). 

4. It is of course true that Kharijism combines a warmth towards the gentiles 
with an acceptance of the imamate, a combination reminiscent of Shi'ism. But 
in each case the Judaic puritanism of the movement overrode this cultural potential. 
In the first place, the accommodating attitude of the Kharijites towards the 
gentiles was a matter of ethnic identity, not culture: so Kharijism appealed to the 
Berber tribesmen and the bandits of Slstan, but had litde in the way of cultural 
syncretism to offer the civilised populations of Ifrlqiya or Transoxania. In the 
second place, the Kharijite treatment of the imamate minimised its capacity to act 
as a cultural fulcrum: the Khirijite imamate is not embedded in a sacred lineage, 
and in the Ibadl case at least (the only one which matters historically) it is hedged 
about by the rabbinical pattern of the Basran ghetto. It is the Rustumid imamate 
of Tahart which goes farthest towards emancipation from these constraints : an 
Iranian royal lineage provides a certain substitute for 'Alids, and the partial 
reception of Mu'tazilism among the North African Ibadis ekes out the parallel 
with Shi'ism. But it isn't much: a Berber ecology and a Kharijite doctrine hardly 
suggest a mixture from which even Iranian imams could have elicited a civilisation. 

5 . Being a residue of Christianity, $ufism was culturally more receptive than 


Notes to pp. 131— 134 

orthodox Islam; but being a residue of Christianity in Islam, the cultural n atur ai- 
isation it could contrive amounted only to a second-class citizenship. 

6. In political terms the Israelite high-priesthood had of course seen bene: 
days : cf. the appointment of Simon Maccabaeus as 'high priest, generalissimo and 
ethnarch' of his people (I Mac. 14:41). 

7. M-. J. Kister, 'On the papyrus of Wahb b. Munabbih', Bulletin of the School 
of Oriental and African Studies 1974, p. 563. 

8. Cf. the ShI'ite partiality for the principle that 'Arabic is not the rather or any 
one of you but only a language' (see for example Abu Hanlfa al-Nu"man b. 
Muhammad al-Taminu al-Maghribi, Ddd'im al-islam, ed. A. Faydi, Cairo 
195 1— 60, vol. ii, no. 729). This way of thinking finds concrete embodiment in 
the ShI'ite rejection of the legal principle of kfifaa among Muslims (E. Grifiiai 
(ed.), "Corpus Juris' di Zaid ibn 'Alt, Milan 1919, pp. i99f; Muhammad h. 
Ya'qiib al-KuM, Kitab al-kafi, ed. A. A. al-Ghaffari, Tehran 1954—7, vol. v, 
pp. 339—45; Abii '1-Qasim Ja'far b. al-FIasan al-Muhaqqiq al-Hilli, Shara'i' 
al-islam, ed. A. M. 'AE, Najaf 1969, vol. ii, p. 299; Nu'man, Da aim, vol. ii, 
pp. i96f). Compare also the tradition that 'AH found no superiority for th- 
children of Ishmael over the children of Isaac in the Book of God (Kulini. 
Kitab al-kafi, vol. viii, p. 69). 

9. The latter apdy equipped with a lengthy epic bearing the tide MukfrrHrnavK. 

10. Such a world is of course beyond the reach of footnotes; but one doab:.-; 
whether even there a Fatimid caliph could have tolerated a dd'i who perpetuated 
the cult of an Indian idol (S. M. Stern, 'Isma'ili Propaganda and Fatimid Rule in 
Sind', Islamic Culture 1949, pp- 299Q. 

11. There, is nothing automatically rabbinical about a tribal heritage: thai or 
the Hebrews did not prevent Solomon installing a tribal deity with a tendency v.r, 
vagrancy in a civilised temple forming an integral part of the palace complex. 
It is the displacement of the cultural license of the priesthood by the bleak recogni- 
tion of intractable fact embodied in the rabbinic notion of 'necessity' that gives 
the Islamic polity its moral intractability (for the darura of the lawyers, see 
Schacht, An Introduction to Islamic haw, p. 84). 

1 2. For the priestly status of the Umayyads, see above, p. 178,11. 71, on the trie 
khalifat allah. Cf. also Ghazzafi's reference to al-umawiyya win al-imamiyy* 
(I. Goldziher, Streitschrift des Gaifili gegm die Bdtinijja-Sekte, Leydcn 2 910, 
text p. 14). 

13. Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art, especially pp. 45-8, 160-2 

14. See above, p. 226, n. 37. 

15. B. Lewis, 'The regnal tides of the first Abbasid Caliphs', in Dr. Z?>: 
Husain Presentation Volume, New Delhi 1968. 

16. For the ahl al-dawla and abna" al-dawla as an abortive service aristocracy, 
see Crone, the Mauidli in the Umayyad Period, chapter 3. 

17. Cf. above, p. 228, n. 2. 


Notes to p. i )4 

i 8 For the 'Treasury of Wisdom' of Harun and the 'House of Wisdom' 
.51 Ma'mun. where the wisdom of the Greeks was rendered into Arabic, see The ' 
Encyclopaedia of Islam' 1 , art. 'Bayt al-hikma'; for Ma'mun's involvement in the 
urticulatton of an Islamic theology, see Sourdel, 'La politique religieuse du calife 
'Abbaside Al-Ma'mun'. 

9. It was not of course only Greek truths to which Shi'ism could be more 
receptive: it is characteristic that it is in the literature of the Imarrus and 
Ismallis that Arabic versions of the Pahlavi Buddha story are preserved (D. 
Gimaret, Le livre de Bilawhar et Budasp selon la version arabe ismaelienne, Paris 
1971, pp. 27-32)' 

ic. W. Madelung, 'Imamism and Mu'tazilite Theology', in Fahd, Le Sht'isme 
hiatnite; id., al-Qasim (it is ironic that the reception of Mu'tazilism should be a 
feature of mountain rather than Kufan Zaydism, ibid., pp. 80, 1 5 8f ). There is of 
curie a further significance to this rapprochement of Shl'ism and Mu'tazilism: the 
o;c Sadducee hostility towards the oral tradition of the Pharisees had returned via 
its Karaite avatar to the priestly fold. The full adoption of Mu'tazilism into 
/xydism, as opposed to Imamism, is thus matched by the virtual absence of a 
Zaydiyya akhbariyya. 

1 z . S. M. Stern, 'Abu '1-Qasim al-Busti and his refutation of Isma'ilism', 
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1961, pp. 21—}. Cf. the failure of the 
Mutarrifiyya to incorporate a comparable philosophy into Zaydism (Madelung, 

al-Qasim, pp. 201—3). 

22. S. M. Stern, 'New Information about the Authors of the "Episdes of the 
Sincere Brethren"', Islamic Studies 1964. This syncretic ambition is not without 
grandeur as an attempt to restore the integrity of the 'great chain of being' in an 
Islamic universe. It is also not without fatuousness as an attempt to blend in- 
compatibles : the astrological heritage of the Chaldeans plays down the meaning of 
particular political events, the messianic promise of the Jews plays it up, and the 
ineluctable cycles of redemption generated by the conflation of the two traditions 
ire both intellectually and emotionally incoherent (cf. Y. Marquet, 'Les Cycles 
. ; - U souverainete selon les epitres des Ihwan Al-Safa", Studia Islamica 1972). 
Compare the Marxist concept of revolution. 

i j . Compare Marqah's opposition of 'the priests' or 'the Levites' to 'the people' 

('aatmah, see Memar Marqah, pp. 60, 63 = 94, 99). 

24. For the identification of what came to be considered orthodox Islam with 
the ' amma, compare the dismissal of the traditionist scholars by their enemies 
ps the bashw al- amma (see for example Madelung, al-Qasim, p. 151) and the 
aiuntsi -accusation levelled against the Mu'tazilites of takfir al-awamm (J. van 
Ess, Die Erkenntnislebre des 'A4«daddin al-Ici, Wiesbaden 1966, p. 49). 
1 1 , Madelung, al-Qasim, pp. 3 5 (the Zaydls and Mu'tazilism), 202 (the 
Mutarrifiyya and philosophy); Marquet, Tmamat, Resurrection et Hierarchie 
sikm ies Ikhwan as-Safa', p. 68 (the Epistles and astrology; compare the late 
M'.tsta'lian identification of the Epistles as the qurdn al-a'imma cited in Stern, 
'New Information', p. 417). 


Notes to pp. i }j-i$6 

26. Consider the very different relationship between Islam and its predecessors 
which a scriptural canon comprising Torah, Gospel and Koran would have im- 

27. Note for example the evolution towards a more civil attitude towards the 
Companions of the Prophet (Kohlberg, The Attitude of the Imdmi-Sbi' is, pp. 
1 1 1-22), and to non-Imami Muslims in general (ibid., pp. 104-8); cf. also 
the shift away from an embarrassingly heterodox doctrine regarding the integrity 
of the Koran (id., 'Some Notes on die Imamite Attitude to the Qur'in', in S. M. 
Stern et al. (eds.), Islamic Philosophy and the Classical Tradition, Oxford 1972). 

28. I. Goldziher, 'Das Prinzip der takfjja im Islam', Zeitschrift der Deutschen 
Morgenldndischen Gesellscbafi 1906; note particularly the way in which the 
Imami jurists present taqiyya as a duty owed to one's coreligionists (ibid., pp. 

29. Cf. the view attributed to Hisham b. al-Hakam: the imam is not expected 
to revolt, and it is impermissable to rebel on his behalf (Encyclopaedia of Islam 2 , 
s.n.). Not that this in itself goes against the grain of priesdy politics : except in its 
proudest Maccabean moments, the Israelite high-priesthood had been accustomed 
to coexist with a more or less alien and oppressive sultan. 

30. For the uncompromising finality of the Imami ghayba, see J. Eliash, "The 
Ithna 'ashari-Shi'i juristic theory of political and legal authority', Studia Islamica 
1969. The point of the Imami ghayba comes out rather neady in the fact that it 
has twice been invoked, in very different contexts, to terminate an unwanted line 
of Isma'IE imams (S. M. Stern, "The Succession to the Fatimid Imam al-Amir, 
the Claims of the Later Fatimids to the Imamate, and the Rise of Tayyibi Ismail- 
ism', Oriens 19 j 1, pp. 204f; W. Ivanow, "The Sea of Imam Shah in Gujarat', 
Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 1936, pp. 43 — 5). 
Compare the occlusion of the messiah, and consequently of any potential for 
activist politics, among another urban religious minority, the early Christians. 

3 1 . Cf. the insistence in the period following the disappearance of the imam that 
the faithful should neither mention his name nor enquire as to his whereabouts 
because of the risk to the lives of the imam and his community (Nawbakhti, 
Kitdb firaq al-shi'a, p. 92). 

.32. Where Imamism concentrates the imamate in a single and ultimately dis- 
continued line of inactive imams, Zaydism distributes the right to initiate the 
imamate by righteous rebellion among all minimally qualified members of the 
Prophetic lineage (cf. the convenient statement of the rules of the game reproduced 
in R. Strothmann, Das Staatsrecht der Zaiditen, Strassburg 191 2, pp. 104—6). 
Where Imamism empties the present of political meaning in favour of an in- 
definitely distant mahdic future, Zaydism makes its sturdily realistic offer of 
imamic justice here and now (with a single exception, mountain Zaydism is 
strikingly free of mahdism, see Madelung, al-Qasim, pp. 198-201). Where 
Imamism interprets jihad as a self-effacing concealment of its secrets from other 
Muslims (Goldziher, 'Das Prinzip', p. 22 m), Zaydism interprets it as an armed 
struggle against them (C. van Arendonk, Les debuts de I'imamat %aidite au Yemen, 


Notes to pp. 136— i $7 

Leyden i960, p. 22}). Where Imamism harps on the Koranic dispensation in 
favour of the believer who denies God under compulsion but remains faithful 
in his heart (16:108, see for example Kohlberg, The Attitude ofthelmdmi-Shi'is, 
p. 328), Zaydism finds its sanction in the Koranic dispensation in favour of those 
who take up arms because they have been unjustly persecuted (22 139, see for 
example S. M. Stern, "The Coins of Amul', The Numismatic Chronicle 1-967, 
pp. 2 1 if, 217). 

3 3. Note the neat retrojection of this ecological contrast onto the career of the 
Prophet : where Imamism picks out his Meccan career as the prototype for the 
beleaguered quietism of an urban ghetto (see above, p. 1 8 3 , n. 3 8, and Abii Khalaf 
Sa'd b. 'Abdallah al-Qummi, Kitab al-maqaldt va 'l-firaq, ed. M. J. Mashkour, 
Tehran 1963, p. 103), Zaydism takes his career in Medina as a paradigm of 
political activism in a tribal society (cf. the imitation of the Prophetic model 
implied in the use of the terms muhajirun and ansdr in connection with the founda- 
tion of the Zaydi imamate in the Yemen (van Arendonk, Debuts, p. 164), and 
the neatness of al-Hadi's invocation of the practice of the Prophet in justification 
of his own somewhat uncanonical treatment of the tgkjtt {ibid., pp. 26of)). 

34. The tribal harmony which the founder of the Zaydi imamate in the 
Yemen was able to establish by the force of sanctity where a secular governor with 
an army had previously failed is paradigmatic for this style of politics (van 
Arendonk, Debuts, pp. 1 34^ cf. also pp. i4of). Compare the way in which the 
same ruler offers his justice to the tribesmen on approval (ibid., pp. 1 3 5Q. 

35. Not that the sacrifice of universality came easily: the first leaders of the 
Caspian Zaydi polity styled themselves dais rather than imams (Madelung,- 
al-Qasim, pp. 1 54—6), and Zaydism never made the obvious doctrinal adaption 
to the existence of two widely separated Zaydi polities, adopted by the Ibadis in 
analogous circumstances, namely the recognition that there might be more than one 
legitimate imam at a time (see ibid., pp. 196—8). 

36. It should be noted that the brief account given here elides the interesting 
transition from Kufan to mountain Zaydism, and sweeps under the carpet the early 
hesitations of the former. 

37. It is significant of this refusal to lower academic standards that more than 
one Zaydi ruler was denied recognition as imam on grounds of inadequate 
scholarship (see for example Madelung, al-Qasim, p. 208). As late as the beginning 
of this century one claimant to the imamate challenged another to a theological 
debate (R. Bidwell (ed.), The Affairs of Arabia ij>oj—6, London 1971, vol. ii, 
section viii, p. 4). 

38. Compare the 'Abbasid imamate, which neither tailed off into a parochial 
imamate in the wilds of Central Asia in the Zaydi manner, nor disappeared into 
formal occlusion in the Imami manner. 

39. For the variety of settings in which Isma'ilism went to work, see S. M. 
Stern, 'Isma'3is and Qarmatians', mCsiieaetal.,L'ElaborationdelTslam,p. 101. 

40. For the ideological gyrations through which the leaders of the movement 
contrived at different times to take substantial sections of their followers, see W. 


Notes to pp. 137—140 

Madelung, 'Das Imamat in der fruhen ismailitischen Lehre' ',Der Islam i96i,and 
B. Lewis, The Assassins: A Radical Sect in Islam, London 1967, pp. 71-83. 

41,. Thus the Sulayhids, in the words of one of the sources, 'combined the office 
of dd'i [sc. on behalf of the Fatimid imam] with sovereign rule [sc. within the 
Yemen]' (Stern, The Succession to the Fatimid Imam al-Amir', pp. 217—19). 

42 . As in the case of 'All b. al-Fadl in the Yemen. The aparatchiks of course could 
do the same thing at the centre, as in the case of the Farimids themselves. 
4}. Thus the Makramid dais in the Yemen might just as well have been 
Zaydi imams; or alternatively, the hidden imams they represented might just 
as well have been deposited by their Bohra adherents in a thorough-going Imami 

44. For Kirmaru the promise of the future reduces to the faindy appalling pros- 
pea of another thirty-odd Fatimid caliphs (Madelung, 'Das Imamat', p. 1 26). 

4 5 . Batalat al-amthal bi-xyhuri 'l-mamthulat (ibid., p. 1 1 8). 

46. Ibid.,pp. 1 30— 2. 

47. Lewis, The Assassins, pp. 67, 112,135. 

48. 'Wherever you live, be citizens' (H. S. Morris, The Indians in Uganda, 
London 1 968, p. 1 9 3 ). We owe our understanding of the cultural adventure of the 
Aga Khans to a seminar paper given by Professor E. Gellner a few years ago. 

'49. Babylonian Talmud, Yoma, f. 19b. 


1 . The duty of the Calvinist pastor is 'by bringing men into the obedience of the 
Gospel, to offer them as it were in sacrifice unto God', and not, 'as the papists have 
hitherto proudly bragged, by the offering up of Christ to reconcile men unto God' 
(Calvin cited in M. Walzer, The Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of 
Radical Politics, London 1966, pp. 24f). Litde but the term islam is missing here. 

2. For Calvinism, see Walzer, Revolution of the Saints, pp. 35, 152. 

3. What a John Knox briefed by the Zaydis might have made of the mountain 
tribes of Scotland, history, which unimaginatively reserved them for Stuart 
restorationism, does not relate. 

4. 'Let them chant while they will of prerogatives, we shall tell them of 
Scripture; of custom, we of Scripture; of acts and statutes, still of Scripture' 
(Milton in 1641, cited in Walzer, Revolution of the Saints, p. 130). 

5. Cf. Avis, 'Moses and the Magistrate: a Study in the Rise of Protestant 

6. Walzer, Revolution of the Saints, p. 8. Where Islam consecrates the violence of 
religious war, Calvinism excuses it on grounds of 'reason of religion' (ibid. , p. 2 74). 

7. Richard Greenham, cited in Walzer, Revolution of the Saints, p. 130; cf. 
Beza's invocation of the hijra of Abraham (ibid., p. 48). Even the wilderness of 
America was for the Puritan immigrants a priori simply a void (P. Miller, Errand 

2 33 

Notes to pp. 140— 14 3 

1 into the Wilderness, Cambridge, Mass. 1956, p. I2n), and the second generation 
was correspondingly obsessed by the problem of the meaning of their society in the 
wilderness (ibid., p. 10). There was no such categorical problem of meaning for 
the Zaydis in the Yemen or the Ibadls in Oman; but then neither of these groups 
created anything very like the United States. 

Walzer, Revolution of the Saints, pp. 98—100. 

9. Consider the proposal for a scripturally based English constitution sent to 
rat: mother country in 1659 by John Eliot, the 'aposde to the Indians', with its 
elaborate scheme based on the tens and hundreds of Ex. 1 8 (ibid., p. 232). Even 
:n 'he remotest dar al-hijra of the Puritan world, the closest a saint could get to 
conceiving an intrinsically sacred polity was thus the briskly functional infra- 
structure adopted by Moses in response to the criticisms of an astute Midianite 
. b-a-vcr: die Puritans had only the machinery of prophetic government 
without the prophetic presence which alone gave it religious meaning. 

to. ibid., pp. 68ff. 

7.1. Ibid., -p. 101. 

12. For this recrudescence of the bashw al-amma see P. Miller, The N» 
England Mind: The Seventeenth Century, Boston, Mass. 1961, pp. 76ft". 

7. 3. Walzer, Revolution of the Saints, p. 32. Compare the seventeenth-century 
Puritan defence of the 'amiable virtues of heathen men' (Miller, TheNew England 
Mind, p. 82). 

14. Ibid., p. 463. 

1 ) . Walzer, Revolution of the Saints, p. 24. 
16. Miller, The New England Mind, p. 1 14. 

17 R. Hooykaas, Humanism*, Science et Reforme, Leyden 1958, pp. 108—12. 
The differing fates of the two categories, with their shared tension between 
Hebraic form and heathenish content, are instructive : in the west philosophy 
rejected the prophetic vessel, in the east the prophetic vessel rejected medicine. 

! 8. Miller, The New England Mind, p. 128. 

19. Note how Ramus rejects Aristotelian logic precisely on the ground that 
It is a mere musnad of concepts (ibid., p. 123 ; cf. above, p. 143). 

10. Goldziher, 'Stellung', pp. 4of. 

z 1 . Miller, The New England Mind, p. 114. 

22. So Ramus compared his logic to a Roman emperor administering the whole 
earth by universal laws (ibid., p. 1 28); the Graeco-Roman heritage stood together 
in the west just as it fell together in the east. 

23. Cf. Joseph Hall cited in J. M. Dunn, The Political Thought of John 
Locke. Cambridge 1969, p. 226n. 

24. Walzer, Revolution of the Saints, p. 76. 

25. Cf. J. M. Dunn, 'Justice and the interpretation of Locke's political theory', 
FoUtical Studies 1968, pp. 76n, 83f. 


Notes to pp. 14}— 14} 

26. Consider the changing functional equivalence of Calvinism and Stoicism. 
When the two spread in parallel fashion among the French nobility of the sixteenth 
century, we have Calvinism taking on the role of the philosophy of a conscien- 
tious elite so characteristic of Roman Stoicism (Walzer, Revolution of the Saints, 
p. 6 1 ) ; but when the new military drill so prized by the Calvinists for its exquisite 
godliness is commended as a means of inculcating Stoic virtues in the ordinary 
soldiery, we have Stoicism taking on the role of an ideology of congregational 
discipline so characteristic of Calvinism (ibid., p. 287). 

2 7. If even the Amerindians were to be assailed by Ramist logic in the name of 
God, the godly fantasy of Locke whereby every English labourer would spend 
six hours a day in cognitive effort seems moderation itself (Dunn, The Political 
Thought of John Locke, p. 231). 

28. Or to put it slightly differently, where Islam can only reduce politics to 
economics, Europe has elevated economics into politics. 

29. This patching up had of course begun already in antiquity, but there were 
few attempts to put an end to it in Islam 

30. Cf. Pines, Beitrage ipr islamischen Atomenlehre, especially p. 74. 

31. The tendency for mathematics to decay into hurufiyya is clear already in 
Kindi (Rescher, Studies in Arabic Philosophy, p. 6). 

32. The Encyclopaedia of Islam 1 , arts. 'Uuruf film al-) ' and 'Djafr'. A similar 
style of numerical speculation was of course available to Galileo (A. Koyre, 
Metaphysics and Measurement: Essays in Scientific Revolution, London 1968, 
p. 4on). 

33. Cf. Philo's rejection of the Stoic view that God attends only to great 
matters (H. A Wolfson, Religious Philosophy: A Group of Essays, Cambridge, 
Mass. 1 96 1, p. 8). 

34. Walzer, Revolution of the Saints, p. 35. 
35.. Cf. West, Early Greek, Philosophy, p. 97. 

36. I.e. not to the Bible (R. Hooykaas, Religion and the Rise of Modern Science, 
Edinburgh and London 1972, p. 11 8). Compare Kepler's view of the astronomer 
as a lay priest of God in the book of nature (M. Caspar, Kepler, London and N ew 
York 1959, pp. 375O. 

37. ' Cf. also the changed relationship between theoretical and practical knowl- 
edge: previously segregated as concerned with the immutable laws and the 
sublunar world respectively, they came together with practice redefined as 
applied theory. Both were henceforth to be judged by their fruits, a demand 
incomprehensible in a classical context (N. Lobkowicz, Theory and Practice: History 
of a Concept from Aristotle to Marx, London 1967, pp. 89^. 

38. Goitein, Studies in Islamic History and Institutions, pp. 2 1 8f. 

39. Cf. above, p. 101. 

40. Cf. Jacob Wimpheling's typically nationalist invocation of the gentile 
character of Christianity: if the German conversion to Christianity at the hands 


Notes to pp. 1 4 j— 14/ 

of the Romans were an argument for the inordinate efflux of German money 
to Rome, then by the same token the Romans, who converted at the hands of a 
Palestinian Jew, should be sending remittances to Syria (G. Strauss, Manifesta- 
tions of Discontent in Germany on the Eve of the Reformation, Bloomington, Ind. 
1971, p. 42). 

41. Ibid., chapter 3; F. Hotman, Francogallia, ed. and tr. R. E. Giesey and 
J. H. M. Salman, Cambridge 1972, editorial introduction. 

42. The Islamic wilderness was thus preempted by the religion; the European 
wilderness by contrast would not bloom for the Puritans, but in compensation was 
still there to be reclaimed by the secular Romantics. 

4 3 . The programme of the Kadizadeists of seventeenth-century Istanbul, as one 
of their enemies pointed out, implied stripping the Ottomans to the bare buttocks 
to clothe them in loin-cloths in the manner of the desert Arabs (L. V. Thomas, 
A Study of Naima, New York 1972, p. 109). It is thus appropriate that the 
fundamentalists took their critic at his word and made their next appearance 
in the eighteenth-century Najd; just as it is unsurprising that Katib Chelebi's 
Ishraqism provided scant shelter for an Ottoman Renaissance, and that Turkish 
nationalism was a product of the twentieth century. 

44. It is striking that in both these civilisations Buddhism has come and 
gone without leaving any very poignant sense of cultural loss. 

45. Islamic law thus occupies an intermediate position between Pharisaic law 
(whether in the stricter madhhab of Bet Shammai or the more lenient version of 
Bet Hillel) and antinomianism (whether combined with the letter of another 
religious law, as with the Fatimid reception of the substantive law of the Imamis, 
or with a wholely secular law, as with the Christian acceptance of Rome). (We are 
indebted to Dr E. Kohlberg for this characterisation of Fatimid law.) 



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id., Skhggn und Vorarbeiten, vol. iv, Berlin 1889. 
Wensinck, A J., 'Die Entstehung der muslimischen Reinheitsgesetzgebung', 
Der Islam 1914. 

id.. The Ideas of the Western Semites concerning the Navel of the Earth, Amster- 
dam 1916. 

id., The Muslim Creed, Cambridge 1932. 

id. (tr.), Mystic Treatises by Isaac of Ninive, Amsterdam 1923. 

id. et al., Concordance et indices de la tradition musulmane, Leyden 1933—69. 
West, E. W. (tr.), Pahlavi Texts (= M. Miiller (ed.), The Sacred Books of the East, 
vols, xif), New York 1901. 



West, M. L., Early Greek. Philosophy and the Orient, Oxford 197 1. 
Widengren, G., Mani and Manichaeism, London 196J. 

Widrig, W. M. and R. Goodchild, "The West Church at Apollonia in Cyrenaica', 

in Papers of the British School at Rome i 960. 
Wieder, N., The Judean Scrolls and Karaism, London 1962. 

id., The "Law Interpreter" of the Sea of the Dead Sea Scrolls : The Second 

Moses', Journal of ' Jewish Studies 1953. 
Wiet, G. (ed.), L'Egypte de Murtadifils du Gapbipbe, Paris 1953. 
Wolfson, H. A., Religous Philosophy: A Group of Cambridge, Mass. 1961. 
Woodward, E. L., Christianity and Nationalism in the Later Roman Empire, 

London 1916. 

Wright, W. (ed. and tr.), Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, London 1871. 

id.. Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum, London 1870. 
Yadin, Y. (ed. and tr.), The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light against the 

Sons of Darkness, Oxford 1962. 
Yamauchi, E., Gnostic Ethics and Mandaean Origins, Cambridge, Mass. 1970. 
Yaqut b. 'Abdallah, Mujam al-buldan, ed. F. Wustenfeld, Leipzig 1866—73. 
Yaron, R., Gifts in Contemplation of Death in Jewish and Roman Law, Oxford 


Zaehner, R. C, Hindu and Muslim Mysticism, London i960. 

id., Zurvan: A Zoroastrian Dilemma, Oxford 1955. 
Ziadeh, J. (ed. and tr.), 'L'Apocalypse de Samuel, superieurdeDeir el Qalamoun', 

Revue de I' Orient chretien 191 5—1 7. 
Zingerle, P. P., 'Uber das syrische Buch des Paradieses von Ebedjesu, Metropolit 

von Nisibis', Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenldndischen Gesellschaft 1875. 
Zuwiyya Yamak, L., The Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Cambridge, Mass. 



Bacher, W, Die exegetiscbe Terminologje der judiscben Traditionsliteratur, Hildes- 
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Bamberger, B. }., 'Revelations of Torah after Sinai', Hebrew Union College Annual 

Ben-Hayyim, Z., review of Macdonald's edition of the Memar Marqab, Biblio- 

theca Orientalis 1966. 
Brock, S. P., 'Syriac Sources for Seventh-Century History', By^ntine and Modern 

Greek Studies 1976. 
Cohen, B., Jewish and Roman Law: A Comparative Study, New York 1966. 
Emery, W. B., Egypt in Nubia, London 1965. 

Jolovicz, H. F. and B. Nicholas, Historical Introduction to the Study of Roman 

Law 3 , Cambridge 1972. 
Omar, F., The 'Abbasid Caliphate, Baghdad 1969. 

Ragib, Y., 'L'auteur de FEgypte de Murtadi fils du Gaphiphe', Arabica 1974. 
Ritter, H.,'SmdienzurGeschichtederislaniischmFr6nHnigkeit',D«rIf/<»»? 1933. 
Sackur, E., Sibyllinische Texte und Forscbungen, Halle 1898. 



Schacht, J., "The KJtab al-tarib of Hafifa b. Hayya?', Arabica 1969. 

id., 'Sur l'exprcssion "Surma du Prophctc'", in Melanges d'orientalisme offerts 
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Van Ess, J., 'Untersuchungen zu einigen ibaditischcn Handschriften', Zeitscbrift 

der Deutschen Morgenlandtscben GeseUscbaft 1976. 



This index covers the main references to die major sources used for the reconstruction of the early development 
of Islam with the exclusion of Arabic literary sources. 


destruction of churches in 

Cyrenaica, 1 56" 
early Iraqi qibla, 173 1 * 
site of Midian, 1 74 40 
Umayyad buildings in 

Jerusalem, 182 34 


chronology, 1 J7 39 » 160" 

Muhammad s Arabian 
biography, 160 s6 

character of Muslim historio- 
graphy, 1 j* 1 

Koranic variants, 167" 

muslim, 1 59'* 

Elusa, 172" 

chronology, 1 J7 J *. 160'* 
muslim, I J 9 s0 
kbaTtfat allah, i 7 8 7 ' 
mahii and imam, 1 78" 

bijricrz, 160 s * 

Dome of the Rock, 18, 168", 
179 1 


date of chronicle attributed 

to, ij7 3 * 
Persian expulsion of Jews, 

M7 » 

Muhammad and the Jews, 

Muhammad's law, 7 
Hagarene attitude to Jesus, 6 
Jewish governor of 

Jerusalem, 6 
Arabs on the Temple 

mount, 10 
'Umar/'Amr, 1 54" 
patriarchal caliphate, 175" 
Arab conversions in Egypt, 

11 j 


date of, i63 2 « 
Hagarene scriptural position, 

'house of Abraham*, 1 76" 
circumcision and sacrifice, 1 3 
Saturday and Sunday, 165" 

Thomas Artsruni 

Persians and Arabs, 1 j8*° 
Mecca and Midian, 1 74 40 

Michael the Syrian (Armenian 
Persians and Arabs, 1 58 40 


Saracen invaders, 1 j 5 18 

Saracens and Blemmyes, 1 5 j 21 
John of Nikiu (in Ethiopic) 
attitude to conquest, 1 j j" 
Jewish attitude to conquest, . 
162 s 

prophecy of Samuel of Qalamun 
(in Arabic) 
muhajirun and ummat al-bijra, 

conversion to Islam, 2 2 1 " 
prophecy of Shenute (in Arabic) 

restoration of the Temple, 161 1 
Isaac of Rakoti 

Hagarene love of the 
Christians, 1 1 
Scverus b. al-Muqaffa* (in 
qibla, iy$ 2t 

conversion to Islam, 221 36 

Life of John the Almsgiver 

Persian devastation of Arabia, - 
ij8 40 

Life of George the Chozcbite 
Hebrews and Arabs, 1 j 7 40 

Doctrina lacobi 
date of, 1 J2 3 


the Prophet s mess ian ism, }f 
the Prophet alive in 634, 4 
Jewish-Arab relations, 6 
the keys of Paradise, 4 

hostility to Saracens, 1 J J 27 
Saracen hostility to Christians, 

Maxim us the Confessor 
attitude to the conquests, 

'Magaritai' and 'Moagaritai', 
159 5 " 52 

chronology, 1J7 3 ' 
Anastasius the Sinaite 

state of the Temple, 1 7 1 4 
Anastasius the monk 

Hagarene hatred of the cross, 6 

conversion of Arabs at 
Sinai, 120 

Muhammad and the Jews, 

oath of abjuration 

the keys of Paradise, 4 


A. Judaic 


sacred geography, 22f 

Jerusalem Talmud 
Arab announces the 
messiah, j 

apocalypse of Zorobabel 
anti-Persian messianism, 1 5 7 40 
messianic desert fantasy, 1 58** 

'On that day* 

messianic desert fantasy, 1 J8 44 
attitude to the conquest, 5 
Israel and the Temple, r6i* 

'Secrets of Simon b. Yofeai' 
date and structure of, 4, 3 j —7 
Ishmaelites as redemption, 4-6 
Abraham's commandments, 12 


the Arabs on Temple mount, 

the Kenitc, 3 5—7 
'AG, 178" 
change of attitude to 
Ishmaelites, 1 j j 26 

B. Samaritan 

the creed, 170' 

surrender to God, 19 

Pentateuchism, 38 

blyftybwb, 178" 

Bakka, 22 
Abul-Fath (Arabic) 

Muhamma d alive at time of 
the conquest, I J 3 1 

partiality to Muhammad, 

Samaritan heresy, i6j* 9 

Passion of the sixty 

martyrdom of garrison of 
Gaza, 6, 120 

wooden structure on Temple 

mount, 161 3 , 171* 
Continuatio Byxantia Arabica 
date of, 171' 
Muhammad leader of the 

conquests, 1 j a 1 
AbuBakr, 178 72 
Mecca, 2 a, 17$*' 


A. Monopbysite, Maronite, Melkfte 
note on the conquest of 
D amascus 
Muhammad's name attested, 

.,7" , 

dispute of 644 
date of, 162 11 
'Mahgraye' and 'Mahgrc', 

Hagarene attitude to Jesus, 1 1 
Hagarene scriptural position, 14 
law of inheritance, 1 68 20 
legal fundamentalism, 38 
Maronite chronicle 
Muhammad's base, 1 74" 
Mu'awiya's philo- Christian 

IQMI, 1 1 

Mu'awiya's coins, 1 1 

Mu'awiya wore no crown, 
colophon of year 63 

'Mahgraye', 160 s4 
Athanasius of Balad 

Hagarene sacrifices, 1 3 
tife of Maximus the 

AbuTurab, 17J 44 

Ishmaelite yoke, 1 56" 

sanctuary, 22 

conversion to Islam (Latin nr.), 

2I2 B0 


covenant of Abraham, 1 3 
Jacob of Edessa 

Muhammad's travels, 174" 

AbuBakr, 178" 

early Islamic chronology, 1 5 7 39 

Jesus as messiah, 1 1 

circumcision and sacrifice, 1 3 

the Ka'ba, 24, i 7 j 30 

anirude to the conquest, 1 j6 28 

conversion ~toT$lam, 160 s1 , 

2I2 M 

teaching Hagarene children, 

AbuBakr. 178" 
chronicle of 77 j 

Muhammad alive at time of 
conquest, I J J 7 
Michael the Syrian 

Muhammad initiates the 

conquests, 1 j2 T 
Palestinian orientation, 8 

AbuBakr, 178" 
impeccable survey of Islam, 

ij8«, i66» 
on the dispute of 644, 162 11 

B. Nestorian 

attitude to the conquest, 1 56*' 
Isho'yahb III 

'Mahgre', 1 59 s1 

Hagarene attitude to Christ- 
ians, 1 1 

conversion in Mazun, 224 s 
Khuzistani chronicle 

date of, 1 5 3 1 

Persian expulsion of Jews, 

Muhammad and the conquests, 

•55' : • 

Hagarene attitude to 

Christians, 162 s 
'Dome of Abraham', 176**, 


Hagarene sacrifice, 1 76** 
Medina and Midian, 1 74 40 
Medina and Yathrib, 1 74" 

Bar Penkaye 

attitude to the conquest, 

[ll], 162* 
Muhammad as a revivalist, 166' 
Hagarene taw, 179 7 
'house of God', 1 76** 
Mukhtar's revolt, [no] 

dispute of monk of Bet Hale 
date of, 163" 
religion of Abraham, 1 2 
Hagarene scriptures, 17, 18 
acceptance of the prophets, 

chronicle of Si'ird (in Arabic) 
Muhammad initiates the 

conquests, I J3 7 
Arab profanation of churches, 

Yathrib as the city of 

Ketura, 174 40 



Aaron, 26, 28 

Abu Yazid al-BUtarru, 10 j 

Arabia, Persian devastation of, 


Abu Yand (al-Khariji), 119 

IJ8 40 

basic dilemma of, 961". 

Achaemenids, 42f, 55, 82, 109 

Arabian deities, 172 s0 

as high priests, i$}f 

•Ad,i 7 3» 

Arabs and non-Arabs, relative 

lose their legitimacy, 123-5 

Adam, all men arc of, 6 j , 123 

standing of, 1 2 2 f 

as exilar chs, 3 2 

Adiabene, J5 

'Arafat, 25, 171'°, 176 49 

'Abdallah b. *Amr b. al-'As, 166" 

Jews of, 198'" 

Aramaic, 2 04 24 

'Abdalfih b. Darraj, 160" 

'Aflaq, Michel, 91 


'Abdallah b. al-Tayyib, 20 j 3 

Aishin, 228' 

in Iraq, Christians, 57, 83, 

'Abd al-'Aziz b. Marwan, 1 1 

Aga Khans. 1 3 8 

196 149 , 2o8 4, ;pagan*. 88 

'Abd al-Hamid b. Yabya, 94 

Aghlabids, 117 

in Syria, 60, 61, 636 

'Abd al- Malik, 19, 29, 32, 13$, 

Afcai of Shavha, 38 

Arians, 7 jf, 106, 117, 123, 

i68» i 79 3 

Ahiqar, 59, 87 

i86 5 , 2Oi I0 » 

'Abd al-$amad b. 'Abd al-A'la, 

abl al-kjtah, 38 



ablal-suffa. [9 s], 218" 

Egyptian, 53^ 113 


Ahura Mazda, 42f, [109] 

Nestorian, 58, 83 f 

descent from, invoked by 

Ait Ana Berbers, 1 1 1 

Syrian, 68 

Muhammad, 8 

Akkadian, 204 14 

Iranian, 43, 104, ijof, 134 

religion of {din Ibrahim), 

Albanians, 133 

'Abbasid, 1 3 3f 

Ishmaelite, 12— ij, 16, 19, 

Aleppo, 212 81 

Islamic, absence of, 103, 12 j 

120—2; Kccurid, IJ9 4 *, 

Alexander (the Great), 64 

European, 141 

163 10 . 164" 

Alexandria, Ji-4, 60, 113 

Aristotle, 144, 184 13 

covenant of, 1 3 

*AJi, 26-8, i68 21 ; see also Abu 

Armenians, 67 

submission of, 1 9 


Arsuzi (Zaki), 212" 

commandments of, 1 2 

'AG b. 'Isa,8s 

art. Islamic, 105, 133 

bijra of, 9 

'AE Bey (Buluckapan), 115 

Aryans, 4af 

scripture of lbrab'm\ 12 

'Alids, 118, if}* 2 ; see also 

Asawira, 108 

sanctuary of, li, 2 j, 26 

Hasan; Husayn 

Asbagh (b. 'Abd al-'Azk), 

dome of, 176*' 

l amal t 3 7f 


house of, 1 76*' 

'Amir b. 'Abd Qays, 95 

Ash'aritcs, 78 

mosque of {masjid Ibrabm), 

'avma, 134, 217 s *, 230" 

Ashur, J5 

I7J 41 

Ammianus MarccUinus, 62 

Assyria, Nestorian 

pillar of, 2 1 

'Amrb. al-'As, 33, 1 J4 U 

under Sasanids, [47, jo], 

wanderings of, in Targums, 2 3 ; 

mosque of, 24 


invoked by Puritans, 140 

'Amr b. 'Ubayd, 38 

conversion of, 83f 

as Ethan the Ezrahite, 163" 

'An an b. David, 38, 97, 98, 

contribution of, see Iraq 

Ibn Wahshiyya's presentation 

1 8 1 24 ; see also Karaites 

set also Nestorians 

of. 208" 

Anatolia, 79, 82, 108 , 

astrology, 8jf, 100, 134 

Abu "Abdallah al-ShV! 119 

Andalusia, 115— 17 

Asturias, n6f 

Abu Bakr, [28], 178" 

Ansar, 24 

Athanaric, 2 2 j 25 


in Zaydi application, 23 2 " 

Athanasius, Patriarch of 

Abu Dharr (al-Grufari), 9 j 

Anthony. St, 52, i87 M , 189 60 , 

Alexandria, $3 

Abu Hanifa, 97, 98 

196 146 

Athor, 58 

Abu'Isa al-Isfaham, 89 * 

Anthony of Takrit, 9jf 

atoms in Islamic occasionalism, 

Abu Qubays, 17 j 41 

anthropomorphism, 128 


Abu Tammam Habib b. Aws 

Antioch, 67, 1 1 3 

Attic 64, 65, 227 s2 

al-"Ja 1, 90, 9) 

Antiochus Epiphanes, 194 13 * 

Augustine (of Hippo), 78, zo: 2 , 

AbiTurab, 168", I75**,i77 w ; 

Apion family, 54, 115 
'AqarQuf, 210" 

204 20 

see also 'AH 

Augustus, 60, 64 

Abu 'Ubayda, 102, 103, 215" 

arabesque, 10 j 


Avestic, 112 


'Awana (b. al-Hakam), 214 23 
Awza'l, 9 j, 11 j 
Axido, 119 
ayat vs otot, 166 7 
Axoury, Nejib, 91 
l ax$ba, 22 3™ 

Baalbek, messianic king of, 68, 

90. '9!'" 

Jewish, 30—2, 8j, 86, 106 
Nesrorian, under Sasanids, 
[47], 57—60; conversion 
of, 84^ contribution of, 
see Iraq 
pagan (Chaldean and other), 

5 6f,8jf,88, 106 
see also Kestorians 
Bacon, Francis, 144 
Badr, battle of, 24, i6o s< 
Baghdad, 96, 11} 
Bakka, 21, 23 

Bar Salibi, 2io w , 211*', 2 13 7 

Bardesanes, 196'", 201 109 

fiarghawaf a, 1 1 8 

Bashsharb. Burd, 214", 2ij" 

Basra. 9?, 96, 108 

Bavarians, 45 

Bcktashis. 1 1 1 

Ben Baboi. 38 

benay geyama, see 'Sons of the 

Berber literature, 204" 

— prophets, [89], II J, Il8 
Berbers, 50, 79, 117— 19, 132, 

Ait Atta, 1 1 1 

see also North Africa 
Berossus, 61, 11 1 

in Ibn Wahshiyya, 210" 
Bet Garma, see Jaramiqa 
Bihafand, 89, 1 10, iij 
bion amikton, 204" 
Bnun:. 100, 131 
Blake, William, 170 2 , 216 51 
Blcmmyes, jo, 155 28 , 2oj 23 
Book, of the Cause of Causes, 8 j 
boukfilo 't, 61 

Brethren of Purity (Epistles of), 

85.95. '54 
Britain, 1 16 

Buddha, Pahlavi story of, 230 19 
Buddhism, 41, 44, 74, 203', 

2l8 10 , 220", 22j", 
2 2 7 », 2 3 6 W 

Buhturi, 94 

Butrus b. al-Rabib, 22 1 41 

Buyids, 1 09, 1 1 1 
Byzantium, see Hellenism, 

Caesars, adduced by the Shu'ubis, 

Calvinists, see Puritans 
Cambyses, 54, 222** 
Canaanitcs, 78, 81 

in Ibn Wahshiyya, 207 29 , 
Carians, 50, 64 
Carmathians, 110, 219" 
Carthage, 101, 217" 
Caspian coast, 33, 1 36, 219" 
Cato, 64 
Caucasus, 130 
Celtiberians, j o, 94 
Ceylon, 218'° 
Chaeremon, ji 
Chalcedonians, see Melkites 
'Chaldean delta', 84, 191" 
Chaldeans, see Babylonia, pagan 
China, 79.94. 108, 12 j, 126,' 

Chorasmia, 131 
Christ, see Jesus 
. Christian Arabs, 1 2 1 

— conquistadors, 109 

spread of, 74 

sublimatory capacity of, 14, 
«. 74 

in Graeco- Roman civilisation, 
46) 48 

a precondition for Islamic 
civilisation, 8of 

initial Hagarene hostility to, 6 

improved relations with, 1 1 

see oho Jesus; $u£sm 
chronology, early Islamic, 157 s9 
Circumccllions, 111 

Ishmaetite, 12, 13 

Keturid, 1 64" 

see also Abraham, religion of 
city state, 45, 48f, 86 
Communism, Chinese, 125 
Companions, Shi'he attitude to, 
23 1 27 

concepts vs Gods, 41, 8 jf, 

conceptual orthodoxy, 49 
confession, monothcist, 170 3 
Confucianism, 8 1 , 94, 125 

Geftnanic, 74f, 78, 116 
Hagarene, Christian reaction 
to, 6 ; Jewish participation 
in, 6—8; messianic nature of, 
3 — j , 8 ; a precondition for 
Islamic civilisation, 73 — 8 
'Constitution of Medina', 7, 

' 1^7" 
Coptic in Arabic script, 22 1** 

reaction to conquests, 1 5 5" 
in Muslim bureaucracy, 227** 
see also Egypt 



of Abraham, 1 3, 19 
of Moses, 1 9f 

see also 'Sons of the Covenant' 


hatred of, 6, 162 10 
coins without* 1 1 
curialts, 4$, 70 

Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, 
da at, 37 

Daduya al-Mubarak, 104 
Dagomba (northern Ghana), 76 
Dabrss, 8 5 

da 7, IsmalD, 137 
datura, 229" 

Dawwani (Jalal al-Din), 226" 
Daylam, 109ft 117, n8f 

Asturias as, 1 16 

Nubia as, 50 
Dayr Qunna', 87 
Dea Syra, 61 
demons, 63 

in messianic fantasy, 1 j8 M 

Puritans in, 2 3 3 7 
Dhu'l-Nun al-Misri, 113 
Dhu Qar, 93 

din Ibrahim, see Abraham, religion 

din mulnn, 117 

Dioscorus, 53 

Dirar b. 'Amr, 38 

Docetism, n, 1 j6" 

Dome of the Rock, 19, 32, ioj, 

161 1 
Donatists, 119 
Druidic studies, 116 
Druzes, 138 
duces sanctorum, 119' 

Edessa, 61,68, 196'", 212"' 
school of,'J9, 201 209 
Jewish refugees from, 6f 


ancient, 79 

Gracco-Roman, 47, JO— J 

Muslim, 11 2- j 

Ottoman, 1 1 j 

Arab conversions to 
Christianity in, 1 1 3 
Elamites, 57, 181" 
Eliezer and Ithamar, 27 
Elijah, ij3 ,? 
Elusa (Halusa), 23 
England, 116 
Enki, 43 
Enkidu, J2, 106 
Ephesus, Robber Council of, 5 3 
Ephraem the Syrian, 69, 94, 
186', i99'»*,2oi JW 
Epicureans, 44, 85, 126ft 144 


Ethan the Ezrahite, 35, 163" 

as Israelites, 16, 170 1 , 198 166 

in Syria, 67 
Euergetes II, 194' 24 
Eunus, 61 
Euric, 123 

Europe, 100, 139—46 
Euthymius, 224 s 

Christian, 78 

Muslim, 32f, 78, [106] 
exodus, see bijra 
• expulsion of the Jews 

from Jerusalem, by the Persians, 

in^by'Umarl, M4 M 
from Arabia by 'Umar I, 24 
Ezra, 165" 

falsafa, 1 01 ; see also philosophy 
Firik, 8j, 100, i84 13 , i8j'« 
farr'thpfi, 217'° 
Fars, 1 10, 130 

Andalusia as, 116 
al-fariq, set 'Umar al-Faruq 
Fasir, 119 
Farima, 1 78** 
Fattmid law, 2 36** 
Fatimids, 114, 221 37,41 

Ftrdawst, 94, 114 
Franks, 76, 123 

Samaritan, [i4f], 38 

Karaite, 3 of, 38 

Hagarcne, 38 

Islamic, Mu'tazilite, 30—2, 38; 
Hanbahte, 14 if, 203 11 

Puritan, 140—5 
furqan, semantic evolution of, 1 7 
Fostat, mosque of *Amr in, 24 

Garamaioi, 208 40 

Gaza, martyrs of, 6, 120* 122 

JMMM, 31 

Gerizim, 25 
Germans, see conquests, 

Gethsemane, 1 1 
Ghass acids, 76, 89 
gbayba, 231 30 

Ghaylaniyya, 95, 213 4 , 221 43 
GhazaG, 216 31 , 227" 

golden calf, 26 
Goldziher, I., I j I, I J2 1 
Golgotha, 11 
Gondeshapur, 59 
Gospel as revelation, 168 2 * 
Gothia, 7j 

Goths, 74-6, 106, 115— 17 
Greek in Arabic script, 112 
Greek culture, see Hellenism 
Gurumu, 2 08 40 

H abash, George, 91 

Habib b. Aws, see Abu Tarnmam 

Hadramawt, 143 

Hafs b. Walid (al-Hadrami), 

Hagar, 9, 23 
Hagra, see Hijr 

Hajjij, 18, 23, 104 
halakha, 29—31, 37f 
Hallaj, 10 j 
Halusa, see Elusa 
Ha-Mhn (al-Muftari, Berber 

prophet), 89 
Hammad al-Ajrad, 214 17 
Hammad al-Rawiya, 94 

vs Hesy chasm, 203 15 

vs Puritanism, i4if 

see also Ibn Hanbal 
bamf, 13, 126 
Harith b. Jabala, 2oo 1H 
Harran, 62, 63, 85, 86, 106, 

Harun (al-Rashid), 230" 

Hasan (b. *Afi), 27 

Hasan b. Gabras, 218 3 

Hasanids, 219" 

Has drub al (Cleitomachus), 101 

Hatra, 87 

Haytham b. 'Atfi, 214" 
. Hayy b. Yaqzan, 101 
Hcliodorus, 61 
Hellenes (pagans), 46, 63 

classical, evolution of, 44-^6; 
relation to local cultures, 

Graeco-Roman, tripartite 
character of, 46; relation to 
local cultures, 48—50 
Byzantine, relation to Fertile 
Crescent, 79, 82 ; subject to 
Islamic conquest, io7f 
provincial, in Egypt, j4f ; in 
Iraq, 59; in Syria, 6if, 
68—70; a precondition for 
Islamic civilisation, 8of ; 
fate of, in Egypt, 1 1 3 ; in 
Iraq, 99-101, I27f; in 
Syria, 94-6 
see also philosophy; science 
Herachtus, 184" 
h'trbad, jo 

Hermetic writers, 51, 142, 185 1 
Hesychasm, 2 03' 5 
high priesthood 

Judaic, 27, 176" 

Samaritan, 26, I32f 

Islamic, see imamate 
Hijaz, 22, 26 

Hijr, 23, 176" 

Jewish settlement in, 172" 
bijra (exodus) 

Hagarene, 8f, 20 

ummat at-, 161 97 

Islamic, 24, 2 3 

lrnami bending of , 183" 

era of, 157", 160 5 * 

see also Mahgraye; mubajirun 
Hilal al-$abi\ 86 
Hippocratic tradition, 100 
Hira\ 2j 

Hisham b. al-Hakam, 231" 
Hiwi of Balkh, 8 j 

in Syria, 64ft 223" 
translated for Mahdl, [641*], 

216 43 
no Arab epigoni of, 94 

Hubal, 1 72" 

Hud, 17 

bujar'm Medina, 17 J 42 
Hunayn b. Ishaq, 228* 
Hungarians, 77 

[144], 23J 31 *" 
Husayn (b. 'AG), 27, no, 

177", 219'" 
Husayn, Taha, zo^ 
Husaynids, 219" 

Iamblichus, 62 

Ibadiyya, [37], u8, 124, 128, 

223", 228 4 

Ibn Atu '1-Muhajir, 94 

Ibn Budan, Z2l 41 

Ibn Hafsun, 1 1 6 

Ibn Hanbal, 96, 123, 124, 135 

Ibn Hazm, 144, 222" 

on Persians beguiling Islam, 

Ibn Jama 'a (Badr al-Din 
Muhammad), 226 43 
Ibn Masarra, 22 2 s * 
Ibn ai-Muqaffa', io2f, 104, 

Ibn al-Rawandl, 85 
Ibn Rid wan, 221 41 
Ibn Saba', 28 
Ibn Taymiyya, 128, 142 
Ibn Wahshiyya 

on Babylonian past, emotive 
character of, 58, 114; 
hopes of restoration in, . 
207 23 ; Judaic language 
in, 86 ; loss of historical 
memory of, 191", 2IO 5 * 
on ancient Syriac, 209 s4 
on hieroglyphs, 2 2i 4T 
vs non-Chaldeans* 88 
Epicureanising attitude of, 83 
conversion in, 207 19 
; Ibn Wasif Shah, 222" 
Ibn al-Zubayr, 32, 176" 



idiom, 49 

Ifriqiya, see North Africa 

ipna\ i j i, i8o" 

Ikfaww al-$afa t see Brethren of 

Iliad, 45, 94, 220" 

imamate (high priesthood) 
a Samaritan caique, ?6f 
in Samaritan usage, 1 76 s3 
conflated with mahdism, 26f 
syncretic flexibility of, 132-4 
Umayyad use of , 135 
fate of, 32C 123^ 136-8 


Samaritan parallel, 176" 
evolution of, 28, $af, 136, 

i83»' 44 
in Iran, nof, 133 
see also imamate 

imperial tradition 

Roman, in Graeco- Roman 
civilisation, 46; in Egypt, 
j); in Syria, 68, 93, 213 s 
Iranian, in Iran, 43 ; in Iraq, 
j8f; in Islam, 101— 4, 
124*". 133 

India, 107^ in, 112, 138, 146 

Indian atoms, 217 s2 
—^idolatry, 100, xo8 
— monism, 104 


evolution of, 41—3 
relation to Iraq, 47, 4gf 
a liability to the Hagarenes, 8if 
contribution and fate, 101—4, 

107—12, I24f 
eastern, 13 of 
Shi'ism in, nof, 133 

pre-Islamic, see Assyria; 

contribution of, 96—104 

as promised land, 24 
'Isab. Zur*a. 21 j" 
Isaac, 19, 2 1 
Isfahan, 220 20 

and foundation of the 

sanctuary, 12 

wanderings of, 23 

death of, aaf 

vs Isaac 2 1 
Ishmaelite birthright 

rejected by the rabbis, 1 J9 41 

invoked by the Prophet, 8 
Isho'bokht, 149— j 1, 180" 
Jsho'dad of Merv, j8, 172" 

as name of religion, 8, 20, 

significance of, \g& 

Isma'ilism, 8j, 134, 137^ 204 10 

in Egypt, 1 14 

in North Africa, 118, 223 71 
in India, 1 1 1, 220", 229 10 

isnad, 31 

Italus (John), 46 

Ithamar, 27 

katcs II of Adiabcnc, 57, 

Jabala b. al-Ayham, 89 
Jacob Baradaeus, 68 
Jacob of Edessa 

wished to teach Greek, 69 
Syriac grammar of, 2 1 1 10 
Jacobites, attitude to conquests 

of, 1 j6 21 ; see also Syria 
Jabiliyya, see tribal past 
Jahiz, 100, 173", 224 1 * 
Jaramiqa, 208 40 , *09 51 , 2io*° 
Jason (Sadducec high priest), 


Java, 76, 112 


'Umax's entry into, j 
Jewish governor of, 6 
Arabs in, 10 

deleted by Pentateuchism, 1 5 
replaced by Hagarcnc 

Shechem, 21-6 
diversion of bajj to, 32 

Hagarcnc hostility to, 6 
accepted as the messiah, 

11-1 3 — 
as a lawgiver, 168" 
later doubts as to his status, 


John of Antioch, 68 
Joseph vs Judah, 21, 164 40 
Joshua, 28 
Judea, 132, 138 
Julia Domna, 61, 90 
Julian the Apostate, 61, 184'* 
jund, 116 

Ka'b al-Ahbar, 1 54" 

in north-west Arabia, 24, 

i 7 ,» 

on a mountain, 17 J* g 
Kadizadeists, 2j6 43 
lea/a j, 229' 
kabin, 26 
Karaites, 3 of, 38 
Kardag, Mar, i 9 o 71 - 74 I93 1M . 
i96 146 

Karkha de-Bet Selokh, j7f 
Karar, 110, 183 s 
Katib Chelebi, 236" 
Kerne, see Egypt 
Kcnite, S. 35-7 
Keturids, 1 J9*V 163 20 , 164 3 * 
keys of Paradise, 4, 203 14 

Khalid b. al-Wafid, 33, 174 12 
Khalid b. Yazid b. Mu'awiya, 

kkalifat att'ah, 28 
Kharijite heretic (Yazid b. 

Unays), 110 
Kharijites, 27, 102, 118, 1 3 1 f, 

143 ; see also Ibadiyya; 

kkassa, 1 34 

kburafat al-'ajam, 220" 

palace of, 107 

subjects of, 219" 
Khwarizmshahs, 109 
Kindi (philosopher), 1 o 1 
'King of Kings', 102, I lof, 117, 
226 40 

Kinnani (Hamid al-Din), 138 
Knox, John, 140, 141, 233 s 

earliest evidence for, 3, 1 yf 
composition of, 1 fl 
Arabian geography in, 2 3 
on the sanctuary, 22, 23, 24 
Shi 'it e attitude to, 231" 
Mu'tazilite attitude to, 30 

KOfa, 96 

mosque of, 1 7 3 27 


in Ibn Wahshiyya, 2 1 s8 
as 'Islamic Assyrians', 209** 
Kutama, 118, 223 71 

la misasa, 177 60 
Lakhmids, 76 

Jewish, 30—2, 37ft 1 jof 
Roman, in Byzantium, 185 21 ; 

among Ncstorians, 98 ; in 

Jewish law, 1 $ 1 ; in Islam, 

97f, 149- j 1 
'laws of Constantine and Theo- 

dosius', 197' i9 
laws of inheritance, 1 8, 149— 5 1 
Lex Fufia Canma, 149 
Lucian, 62 
Lucretius, 44 
Luqman, 87 

Luther, murderous intent of , 1 8 j 1 ' 
ma'ase, 37 

Macedonians, 4$, 64, 80, 100; 

see also Ptolemies, 

Seleucids ■ 
Magaritai, see Mahgraye 
Magi, 41, 43, 110, 112, 131, 

Mababbarata, 220 33 
Mahdi (caliph), 197 1 ", 2i6«, 


mahdi and sosbans, 220" 
mahdism, see mcssianism, Islamic 


Mahgraye, Mahgre, 8f, 20; see 

also mubajirun 
majlis, 226" 
Makramids, 23 j 43 
makf, 1 8 j 41 
malamath, 214" 

al-amlak, see 'King of Kings' 
'malik of all Romania', 218 s 
Malikism, 11 j, 118 
Mamluk restorationism, 1 1 5 
mamlikh see slave soldiers 

sponsors Greek wisdom, 

[•I-54], 2J0'» 

sanctifies Iranian aristocracy, 

["34]. "» ' 
opens Egyptian pyramids, 

' * * 222* 1 

issue between Ibn Hanbal 
and. 96 
• loses out to Ibn Hanbal, 

Manchus, 94, 204" 
Mandeans, 86, 207"*" 
Manetho, 51, 61, m 
Manichaeism, 42, J7, 190", 

207"; see alsojindiqs 
Mansah, Mansha, 172 1,1 (Zoroastrian 

priest), 112 
Maoists, 12 j, 143 
Mardonism, 74, 185 18 
Marduk,[ 5 j], ai8» 
marriage of Muslim women, 

180 17 
Marwa, 171 10 , 176 4 * 
Marwan II, 106 
Marwanites, 183 43 

not in Spain, 116 
Marxism, 86, 138, 144, 183 1 , 

205", 227 s *, 230"; see- 

also Maoists 
Mashaallah, in" "7 30 

'Umar not known as, I J4 19 
acceptance of Jesus as, see 

masjid Ibrahim, 17 5**; see also 

matbanu 167 12 
mawaTt, 112, 116 
Maymun b. Mihran, 94 
Mazdakites, 102, 184 9 , l8$ n 
Mazun, 224' 

a Samaritan caique, 2 1 

Sinaitic skew, 24—6 

not primary, 21—4 

once fertile, 172 16 

in early papyrus, 160" 
Median revolt, 1 08 
medicine, 99ft 101 

— prophetic (tibb nabawt), 99 

Medina, 24f 

medinab vs miqdasb, 3 3, 174" 

Meleager of Gadara, 198 111 

Meletian schism, 5 2f 

Melkites (Chalcedonians) 
in Byzantine Syria, 68 
convert to Monophysitism, 

2IO« 3 

the first to write Arabic, 


become Arabs, 89f 
Memphis, 60 
merchants, 14J, 227" 
Mesene, j6 

Mcssalians, 194'" I96 146 
messianic, pretenders 

in Crete, ij8 4 * 

in Mesopotamia, ij8 44 , IJ9 46 

Judaic, anti- Persian, 1 J7 40 ; 
Qumranic, 3 1 ; character of, 

Judeo-Hagarene, 4—9, 10, 1 j, 

Islamic (mahdism), origin of, 
zyi; character of, 34; in 
Imam ism, 183 44 ; in 
Ismallism, 1 37f; not in 
Zaydism, 2 3 1 32 
metivta, 226" 

Midian, 24, 163 20 , 173 24 174* 

midrash, 31, 179 5 

Mini, 176" 

minbag, $j{ 

mtqaasb, 33, 174" 

mishna, 31, 179 s 

Mitanni, 61 

Mongols, 32f, 7 5, 76, 79, 84, 

Monophysites, see Copts; 

Morocco, [118], 199'", 226" 
'Mosaic philosophy', 142 

paradigm of, 1 7 

as a redeemer, in Judaism, 

1 J 8 46 ; in Judeo-Hagarism, 

8 ; model for original mahdi, 


as a lawgiver, unique recogni- 
tion of by Samaritans and 
Hagarenes, i4f; model for 
Ishmaelite prophet, ty{; 
seriatim revelations of, 

as a warner in Koran, 16 
later doubts as to his status, 

see also law, Jewish 
Mosul, 87 

Mozarabs, 115, 116, 117 
Muallaqat, 9jf 


did not return to seat of 

Muhammad, 174 38 
removed the viinbar, 182" 
went on philo-Christian tour of 

Jerusalem, 11 
struck coins without crosses, 


wore no crown, 1 76 s * 
shifted Friday prayer to Satur- 
day, 1 64" 
collected Muallaqat, 9 3 
his empire to be restored, 90 

mubajirun, 8f 

as the Arab umma, 161 57 
in ZaycG application, 2 3 2 3 3 


preached messianism, 4f 
invoked descent from 

Abraham, 8 
initiates the conquests, 4 
first attestation of his name, 


first attestation of his base, 

174 5 

as a revivalist preacher, 16 

as a warner, 1 6 

as a scriptural prophet, i7f 

chronological revision of his 
death, 24, 28 

geographical revision of his 
travels, 174 31 

inner Arabian biography, 160" 
mubkatn and mutasbabib, 167 11 
mukbalafat abl al-kftab, 180" 
Mukhtar, 96, 1 10, 220 19 
Mukbtarname, zzg 9 
Murtadi, s 14 
Mutarrifiyya, ajo 11 
Mu'tasim, 228* 
Mutawakkil, 93, 124 

reject the oral tradition, 30-2 

and Abbasids, 1 34 

in Basra, 95, 96 

in North Africa, 2 2 8 4 

as the obverse of Zurvanites, 

muvdtle bne Isra'el/lsbma"el, 

muwasbsbaby 115 
mystery. Christian, 104, 228 s8 
mysticism, set Sufisra 


of Petra, 23, 60, 76, 81, 92, 
., 7 » 

of Iraq, 224'* 
Nabita, 18 3" 
Nabonidus, 106 
NahawancG, Binyamin, 1 8 i 2S 
Najdiyya, 177" 
Najran, 87 

name of God, 176 56 , 1 34 


Narsai of Assyria, 5 7 
Nasir-i Khusraw, 138 
nationalism, I4jf 
Nazarenes, 1 j6 JS 

Ju<laic, 1 J7 31 

Christian, in Syria, 63, 66, 70; 
in Iraq, 60; in Islam, 9 j, 

jce tf/jo 'Sons of the 
Nebuchadnezzar, jfe Cambyses 
Neoplatonism, 134, 144 

reaction to conquests, 

law among, 30, 98 
cpistemology of, J9, 202 224 
see also Assyria; Babylonia; 

Nestorius, Patriarch of 

Constantinople, 68 
Nimrod, j8, 190", 192" 
Nimrodids, j8, 102 
Ninive, J7f, 84, 87 
Nisibis, school of, 59 
Nizaris, 111, 138 
North Africa 

Roman, 47, 6jf 

Muslim, ii2, 117— 19, 130, 

slave soldiers in, 1 16 
Nubia, jo 

nudity at resurrection, 165 49 
Nuqtawis, 1 1 1 

obscurantism, 70, 84, 128 
occasionalism, 101, 128 
officiates, 48, 70 
Olyrnpiodorus, 20j 2i 
Oman, 224' 

opinio prudentitm, 151, 180 11 
oral tradition, 30—2, yyi, 151, 

>79 M 
Osrhoene, 61 
Otot, l66 T 

Pachomius, j2, j j, 60 
pagans, see Hellenes; Harran; 

Mandeans; Chaldeans 
Pahlavi, 1 1 2 
Pakistanis, 66 

as the promised land, see 
messianism, Judeo- 
fa 'if once a place in, 22 
Palestinians, 91 

keys of, 4, 203" 
non-Arabs dragged to, 1 30, 

Adam spoke Syriac in, 2o8 41 

Adam spoke Arabic in, 123 
native country of the 
Christians, 140 
Pannenides, 4 1 

Parthians,4i t 43,47,49, 55, 

$6, 109 
Paul, St, 74,77, 204 ,M8 
Paul the Hermit, 187 30 
Pekgianism, 59 
Pentateuch, see Moses; Torah; 

Persia, see Iran 
Persian impostor, no 

no Turan to the Greeks, 44 
expel Jews from Jerusalem, 
1 ,7" 

devastate Arabia, 1 j8*° 
Peshitta, 172 '* 
Pctosiris, 51 
Petra (Reqam), 2 3 

black stone of, 172 20 

adduced by the Shu'ub'is, 

in Muslim Egypt, 1 14f 
keeps the roads safe, 182 36 
Pharaonic kingdom, jof 
Pharaonism, 91, 114 
Pharisees, 78, 132, 137, 138 
Philo of Byblos, 61 
Philoponus, John, 54, 101, 

philosophy, Greek 

adopted by the Romans, 46, 

6 4 f,ai6 4 ' 
no market for in Carthage, 

enthusiastic reception among 

Nestorians, 59 
pulverised in Syria, 9jf 
transmitted by Nestorians, 


under 'Abbasids, 134 
fate in Islam, 99—101, 144 
Philoxenus, 69f 
Phoenicians, 6of, 63, 6jf 
Plato, 64, 144. i84 >5 
- Platonic love, 95 
Plethon, 100, 18 j 16,20 
Plotinus, 78 
pluralism, 62f, 84, 97 
Plutarch, 94 

poetry, Arabic, 100, 126; 

see also Muallaqat 
polis, see city state 

occaskraalist, 104 

reduced to economics, 125 

radical, u.3 
Pon tines, 64 

Poseidonius of Apamea, 6 1 

pagan, in Egypt, $ 1 ; in 

Syria, 61 
Zoroastriau, see Magi 
Christian, teach Hagarenes, 
93 ; expelled from 
Samarra, 93 
Israelite, see high priesthood 
Islamic, see imamate ' 
Procopius, 94 
Prophet, see Muhammad 
prophetic medicine, see medicine, 

■ — philosophy, 142 

prophetologtcal relativism, 
in, 169" 

prophctology, evolution of 
Islamic, i4f, 16-18;, 
see also Moses; Jesus; 

prophets, gentile, 103, 224 13 

Protestants, see Puritans 

provincial cultures, see -Hellen- 
ism, provincial 

Ptolemais, 60 

Ptolemies, jo, ji,6o, 115; 

see also Euergetes II 
Ptolemy of Mendes, 5 1 
Puritans, 140— j 

Qadariyya, 95 
qa'im, i6j 4 * 

qanim, 98 ; see also law, Roman 

Qatari b. al-Fujaa, 177* 3 

qibla, zz,2$£ 

Koranic treatment of, 1 7 1 6 
biblical sanction of, 1 7 1 14 
of Wasit, Jafci? on, 173" 

qiyas, 30 

quietism, 33, [124], 126, 136, 
183 40 

Qur an, see Koran 

quran ai-aimma, 230 15 


as Levites, 1 76 s4 

in early papyrus, 160 56 

as provincial governors, 226 30 

Qurra b. Shank, 24 

Qusayr 'Amra, 133 

Qusayy, 172 20 

rabbis, syncretic inflexibility 
of, 132 

Rabbula,69f, i 9 6 us , zoo" 8 , 

20I 201 

Rafida, 133, 226" 
Ramism, 142 
Rastafarians, 21 3 6 

Razi (Muhammad b. 

Zakariya), 85 
Rechabites, 361", 78, IJ7 38 
ntonqidsta, 117 
Red Sea, 20 



Reformation, in Europe, 1 39, 

142, 146 
Renaissance, in Europe, 142, 

M4. M6 
Republic, 45 

republica de los Indios, 2 1 9 1 1 
Reqam, see Petra 
resurrection, 16 5 49 
revelation, seriatim, 166 s 
Robber Council, J 3 
rois thaumaturges, 109 
Romance, 1 1 j 
Rome, see imperial tradition, 

Roman; law, Roman; 

Hellenism, Gra ceo- Roman 
rukn, 21 

Runu descent, 64 
Rustumids, [118, 132], 

228 4 

Sa'ada, An pin, 91 
Sa'adya Gaon, 86 
Saba'iyya, 1 77"; see also 

Ibn Saba' 
Sabeans, set Keturids . 
Sabrisbo* of Karkha de-Bet 

Selokh, j 7 

Ishmaelite, provincial, I2f; 
metropolitan, 25 

Kerurid, 164" 
Sadducees, 132, 133, 137, 

Safa, 171 10 
Safawids, 1 1 1 

Sahib b. 'Abbad, 220" 222" 

Sahnun, 124 

Saivaite mythology, 127 

salafyya, 146 

$alib. "(prophet), 17 

Salman al-Farisi, [no], 168" 

$amad al-Yahudi, 207" 


dissociation from Jews, 14 

creed, 170' 

Abrahamic surrender, 19 
Abrahamic sanctuary, 2 1 
scriptural position, I4f, 38 
Aaronid high priesthood, 26, 

Targum, 172" 
heresy, 165 49 
halakha, 29, 38 
their faith not exilic, 3 2 
relations with Arabs, 165" 
Samarra, 93 
Samiri, 177 60 
Sanchuniathon, 90 
sanctuary, 21—6 

Abrahamic, Bakka, 22; 
Hijr, 23; in the tar- 
gumic north-west, 22—4; 
to the north of Medina, 

2 3 ; to the east of Egypt, 
24 ; Ta~*if, 2 2 ; Medina as, 
241*, Mecca as, 2 j 
Mosaic, Mecca, 2jf 

Sanscrit, 112 

Sardana, J7» 58 

Sargon, j8 

Sarjun b. Mansur al-Rumi, 

Sasanid court etiquette, 97 

descent, 219'* 
Sasanids, 42f, 49, 5 5, 56; set also 


Schacht, J., 1 j 2 180 11 

in Islam, 99^ 128 

modern, 143-j 

see also medicine 
Scipio, 65 

scriptural position, see pro- 

Sdeucids, $j, }6, 60 ; see also 

Antiochus Epiphanes 
Sennacherib, 57, 87, 190", 


Sennacheribids, 58, 2io*° 
Septimius Seven is, 87 
sevara, 37 

Scverus Sebokht, 6j 

Shafi'i, 3if, 38 ... 

Shahanshah, see 'King of Kings' 

Sbahname, 112, i 14, 115 

Sharifian sultans, 118 

Shechcm, 2 1 , 2 j 

Shenute, J5, 189 60 


evolution of, 26—8 
gentile proclivities of, no, 

1}2 f 

cultural permissiveness of, 

134, 146 
fate of, 1 36—8 
in North Africa, 118 
Shl'ite literature, jabilt pride in, 



general, 97, 101, i02f 

Egyptian, 222 41 

Christian, but no Syrian, 87, 

89, [90] 
Chaldean, 88 
Iranian, 1 1 1 , 1 1 2 ; in 

Tahart, 118 
weak Spanish, 1 1 j 
no Greek or Indian, 1 08 
appears in plural Iraq, 97, 

2l 4 " 
17 nationalism, 14 j 
Simeon of Reward ashir 
on law, 180" 
alternative date of, 180"^ ^ 
simpliciores, 21 7" 

conquest of, 6, 120, 203 7 
tn Mosaic paradigm, 1 7 
Meccan, 25 

Mosaic halakha from, 30 
Sind, 108, 116; see also India 
Sistan, 228* 
slave girls, 148, 227" 
— soldiers (mamlitks), 104, 1 16, 

125, 131, 148 
Slavs, 77 
Solomon, 2 29 11 
'Sons of the Covenant* (benay 
geyama), 60, 63, 66f; see 
also nazirites 
seaborn* 220" 
Spain, 47, 76, 79, 112, 

statecraft, Iranian, 101— 4, 


Stoics, 44, 8j, 126, 127, 

2i6 45 , 23 j" 
stoning penalty, 180 17 
Sufism, 34, 8j, 95, 96, I04f, 

culturally permissive, 131, 


Sufyani, 90 
Sufyantyya, 214 20 
Suhayb al-Rumi, 108 
Suhuf Ibrahim, see Abraham, 

scripture of 
Sumeria, 79, 106 
suttfta, 37f 

of God, 99 
surat al-baqara, 17 
Suromaqedmes (Syro- 

Macedonians), 64 
Suryane, see Syrians 

as Graeco- Roman province, 

47, 60-70 
conversion of, 88—90 
contribution of, 92—6 
see also Jacobites 
Syriac, 89, 208 41 , 209 s4 , 


Syrian historiography, 214" 
Syrians (Suryane) 

in Syria, 63ft lose their 

ethnicity, 8gf 
in Iraq, 57 ; retain their 
ethnicity, 87 

Taghlib, 121 
Tahart, 118, 2 28 4 
tabipn,[zj], 177" 
tajrnir, 33 

takftr al-aufamm, 230 24 
Tanguts,,- 404 s1 

^ ■■ Targums, 22f 




from Syria, not Assyria, 

. 97 '« 
rejected Greek culture, 6j, 

19 8»» 
rejected power, 68 
plagued by demons., 196 146 
pica tor one law, 196 142 
founder of Syrian asceticism, 

198" 4 
taufwabun, 177 60 

'Uinar restores, j 

Jews guide Arabs to, 1 j6 29 

quarrels over, 10 

lies ruined and burnt, 1 7 i 4 

wooden structure on site of, 

■71 4 

Dome of the Rock built on 
site of, 19 
Thabit b. Qurra, 86 
Thamud, 173" 
Thebes, 50, 60 
Theodore Abu Qurra, 97, 

2II 71 

Theodore of Mopsuestia, J9, 
aoa JM 

Theodoretus of Cyrrhus, 61, 
65, 68, 69 

theology, beginnings of Islamic, 

Theophilus and Mary, 201 Joa , 

Tneophilus of Edessa, i97 16 ' 
Thumama (b. aJ-Ashras), 224" 
fihb nabau/fy set medicine, 

Timothy, Nestorian catholicus, 

Tor ah 

of'Abdallahb. Amr. i66» 
dumped in Lake Tiberias, 1 8 

see also twrb\ Moses; 

ibal past, Arab (Jabiltyya), 

*3*. 77*". 94. "6 
Trojans, 44, 46 
Turan, 41, 107 
Turkey, 110 
Turks, 108, 133 
Turfushl (Ibd Abi Randaqa), 

twb % i66' s , 167 14 

'Ubayd b. Shariya, 94 
'Ubaydallah al-Mahdi, 138 
'Udhri tribesmen, 9 j 
Ulfila. 75 

al-umam al-khaliya, 173 14 
'Umar al-Faruq 

Hagarene messiah, j, 34 
expels the Jews, 24, 1 J4 M 
collects the Koran, 168 11 
redeems the Syrians, 90 
on religious merit, 225 s4 
'Umar II, 164", 213 5 , 221" 
'Umayr b. Sa'd al-Ansan, 162 11 
Umayyad an, 105, 133 
— legal practice, 30 

—rule in Spain, 11 sf 


as high priests, 133, 13] 
lost their legitimacy, 3 3 
see also imamate; kbaRfat 

UmmAblha, i 7 8"- 69 
umm al-qura, 24 
United Arab Republic, 113 
universal religion, Islam not 

quite a, 120-3 
universe, dislocation of Islamic, 

Uranius Antoninus, 61 

Usrushana, 109, 228* 
'Uthman, 17, I 7 J 44 

vandalism, 202 1 
Vandals, 78, 118 
'verus Israel*, 77 
Virgil, 46, 22 j 6 f 
Visigoths, see Goths 
Visnu, 220" 

Wahb b. Munabbih, 9 j 
Wahhabism, 146 
u/ala, 2 28 1 
WalidI, 121 
Wasit, mosque of, 2 3 

Jahiz, on, 173" 
wine tabu, 37, 157'* 

Yahyab. 'AtU, 211", 215" 
Yathrib, 22, 24, 106 
Yazdin of Kirkuk, 58 
Yazid III, 213 4 
Ychudai Gaon, 3 7f 
Yemen, 33, 136 
Yenan, J2J 
Yezidis, 183", 209 41 
Yuhanna b. al-Bitriq, 206" 

jandaqa, see yaatas 

Zaydan, Jurji, 91 

Zayc&s, 116, 124, 134, t)6f 

Zen, 74, 185 18 

Zcnobia, 60, 212" 

Zeus, 184" 

■qndiqs, 85,96, ioz;seealso 

Zoroaster, 41, 58, 219 16 
Zoroastrian restoration, hopes of, 

219 s 

Zoroasrrianism, 41— 3, 49, no 

in Iraq, 56f 
Zurvanitcs, 127 


a m tb